The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson

Dr Oliver Thomson speaks with physiotherapist and researcher Dr Kieran O'Sullivan on the barriers and facilitators to the progression of biopsychosocial MSK practice

Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of The Words Matter Podcast. 

In this episode I’m delighted to speak with Physiotherapist Dr Kieran O’Sullivan.

Kieran graduated as a physiotherapist from the University College Dublin in 1999. In 2004 he completed an MSc in Manipulative Therapy at Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia. In 2005, he started lecturing at the University of Limerick.

In 2008 he was awarded specialist member status by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists. From 2016-2019, he took a 3-year career break to act as Lead Physiotherapist at the Sports Spine Centre at Aspetar, Qatar, and he shares his experience of this in the episode.
His research interest is musculoskeletal pain and injury, particularly persistent spinal pain. He completed his PhD on persistent low back pain.
In this episode we talk about:
  • The progression of the BPS model and the barriers and facilitators influencing this progression.
  • His experience of working within the different cultural and social contexts at Aspetar, Qatar.
  • The systemic, organisational and structural factors related to clinicians practice behaviour and the challenges of implementing a BPS framework.
  • The 'swinging pendulum' argument of the the BPS model in MSK practice.
  • How we might inadvertently trivialise, invalidate or stigmatise patients experiencing MSK pain.
  • His ideas around approaching MSK colleagues who hold misconceptions, unhelpful beliefs or adopt outdated treatment models.
  • A communication strategy which has been affiliated with him - the 'Kieran O’Sullivan talk back Technique' 
Kieran has been a frequently requested guest, and it’s clear why. I really enjoyed talking to Kieran, his calm, warm and wise words were really effective in charting a way forward to overcome some of the challenges of implementing a biopsychosocial approach to practice.

Kieran is on Twitter @kieranosull

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What is The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson?

The Words Matter Podcast brings you insights, reflections and conversations focused on the latest evidence, theory, philosophy and practice of communication-focused healthcare.

Find out about the more tacit, 'softer' and personal side of clinical practice such as the role of philosophy, beliefs, behaviours, developing therapeutic relationships or the purposeful use of language with people experiencing pain from expert academics, clinicians and researchers from across the world and spanning the musculoskeletal disciplines. This podcast will help you reflect on your own current practice and inform and stimulate you to consider new ways of approaching your practice and patients, to create a better clinical experience and outcomes in people with musculoskeletal pain.

Hosted by Dr Oliver Thomson PhD, an osteopath and Associate Professor who is passionate about researching and educating clinicians on a revised narrative, communication and biopsychosocial approach to musculoskeletal therapy. If you like the podcast, subscribe and check out the online learning and resources at

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