040 – Professor Peter O’Sullivan – How Has Pain Management Evolved?

In this interview, Marika and Antony talk to Professor Peter O’Sullivan.

Peter is a clinical researcher at Curtin University and specialist physiotherapist at Bodylogic Physiotherapy, Perth WA. With his team, he has published over 250 peer review articles on MSK pain and its management, His passion is empowering people disabled with pain to get back to living again.

In this interview, we discuss

  • how COVID-19 is resulting in more anxiety and how this is showing up in clinics
  • helping people in pain via Telehealth
  • Pete’s journey as a physiotherapist and in particular his thoughts around pain and how they have evolved over the years. (He even goes back to his experiences as a child and how family shaped his responses to pain). He talks about how frustrated he was with the biomechanical model of pain in his early years and how his personality as a rule breaker probably helped him to think outside the box and develop new ideas (alongside his colleagues).
  • things that you can do in order to keep growing professionally and how to create positive clinical environments
  • the pros and cons of doing patient demonstrations in front of live audiences
  • the Biopsychosocial Model – how the “Bio” is really important and not to be ignored. We also discussed where manual therapy and touch can fit into it (and when it is maybe not appropriate!).
  • Cognitive Functional Therapy (CFT) – the model that Pete and others created and how it is not about “talking to people” and a lot is based on building relationships and trust, as well as performing behavioural experiments.
  • minimum requirements for physiotherapists in order to implement CFT – incl a discussion on how for some people learning CFT is relatively easy whereas for others it takes a long time or it’s just not a good fit.
  • bottom line – patient-centred care is where we should start. All models will be criticised/critiqued and will evolve over time, but if we put the person in the middle of their journey (and put our egos aside), we’ll be doing a decent job of it.

You can learn more about Pete at

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