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François Desmeules


pht., Ph. D.


Université de Montréal

Research Axes


Contact information

Phone: 514 252-3400, poste 5607


  • Véronique Lowry, pht., PhD candidate
  • Simon Lafrance, pht., PhD candidate
  • Anthony Demont, pht., PhD candidate
  • Amélie Kéchichian, pht., PhD candidate
  • Mathieu Lalumière, pht., PhD candidate
  • Vincent Raphaël, pht., PhD candidate
  • Jean-Gabriel Lapalme, pht,Master's candidate
  • Alexandre Hardy, Master's candidate
  • Éveline Matifat, pht., M.Sc., Research professional
  • Maxime Charron, pht., M.Sc., Research professional

François Desmeules, PT, PhD is a physiotherapist who graduated from Université Laval in 2000 and received his doctorate in epidemiology from Université Laval in 2010. Professor Desmeules worked as a clinician at Quebec university health centres for over ten years.

His research interests include:

  • Developing and evaluating new models of physiotherapy, including advanced practices.
  • Diagnosing and evaluating rehabilitation, musculoskeletal and orthopedic interventions for shoulder and knee conditions.
  • Developing evidence-based practices and synthesizing knowledge in the fields of rehabilitation, musculoskeletal care and orthopedics.

The author of over 80 studies published in various scientific journals, he has been involved in many projects related to professional physiotherapy practice over the years and has acted as an expert, consultant and administrator for multiple organizations and institutions in Quebec and Canada.

Research Unit

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are highly widespread in the general population and include atraumatic conditions such as neck and lower back pain, osteoarthritis, or tendinopathies as well as traumatic conditions such as fractures and ligament or tendon injuries.

MSD are the most common cause of long-term pain and physical incapacity and affect hundreds of millions of people around the world. As our Western populations age and become more sedentary, the societal burden of MSD is dramatically increasing. Many studies show that the diagnosis and treatment of MSD is sub-optimal and that these patients have problems getting timely access to care.

The overall goal of our unit’s research program is to improve care and access to care for MSD patients, particularly in the context of traditional physiotherapy or advanced physiotherapy practice as well as in terms of first-line or specialty care such as family medicine, emergency or orthopedics.

  • Ouellet P, Lafrance S, Pizzi A, Roy JS, Lewis J, Christiansen DH, Desmeules F. Region-specific exercises versus general exercises approaches in the management of spinal and peripheral musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review with meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2021.
  • Leclerc M, Gauthier C, Brosseau R, Desmeules F, Gagnon DH. Changes to Biceps and Supraspinatus Tendons in Response to a Progressive Maximal Treadmill-Based Propulsion Aerobic Fitness Test in Manual Wheelchair Users: A Quantitative Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Study. Rehabil Res Pract. 2021;2021:6663575.
  • Lafrance S, Ouellet P, Alaoui R, Roy JS, Lewis J, Christiansen DH, Desmeules F. Motor Control Exercises Compared to Strengthening Exercises for Upper and Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trials. Phys Ther. 2021.
  • Gagnon R, Perreault K, Berthelot S, Matifat E, Desmeules F, Achou B, et al. Direct access physiotherapy to help manage patients with musculoskeletal disorders in an emergency department: results of a randomized controlled trial. Acad Emerg Med. 2021.
  • Kechichian A, Lafrance S , Matifat E, Dubé F, Lussier D, Benhaim P, Perreault K, Filiatrault J, Rainville P, Higgins J, Rousseau J, Masse J, Desmeules F. Multimodal Intervention including Rehabilitation Exercise for Older Adults with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy. 2020; Published Ahead of Print
  • Lowry V, Desmeules F. Extended Role Practitioners to Improve Access to Rheumatic Care: What is the Evidence in the Classification of Patients with Spondyloarthritis? J Rheumatol. 2020;47(4):483-5.
  • Lafrance S, Lapalme JG, Mequignon M, Santaguida C, Fernandes J, Desmeules F. Advanced practice physiotherapy for adults with spinal pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Eur Spine J. 2020.
  • Lowry V, Bass A, Lavigne P, Léger-St-Jean B, Blanchette D, Perreault K, Roy JS, Aiken A, Décary S, Desmeules F. Physiotherapists' ability to diagnose and manage shoulder disorders in an outpatient orthopedic clinic: results from a concordance study. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2020 Mar 18:S1058-2746(20)30005-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2019.11.030. Epub ahead of print.
  • Doiron-Cadrin P, Lafrance S, Saulnier M, Cournoyer É, Roy JS, Dyer JO, Frémont P, Dionne C, MacDermid JC, Tousignant M, Rochette A, Lowry V, Bureau NJ, Lamontagne M, Coutu MF, Lavigne P, Desmeules F. Shoulder Rotator Cuff Disorders: A Systematic Review of Clinical Practice Guidelines and Semantic Analyses of Recommendations. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Jan 31:S0003-9993(20)30030-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2019.12.017. Epub ahead of print.
  • Matifat E, Perreault K, Roy JS, Aiken A, Gagnon E, Mequignon M, Lowry V, Décary S, Hamelin B, Ambrosio M, Farley N, Pelletier D, Carlesso L, Desmeules F. Concordance between physiotherapists and physicians for care of patients with musculoskeletal disorders presenting to the emergency department. BMC Emerg Med. 2019 Nov 10;19(1):67.
  • Demont A, Bourmaud A, Kechichian A, Desmeules F. The impact of direct access physiotherapy compared to primary care physician led usual care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders: a systematic review of the literature. Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Oct 11:1-12.
  • Matifat E, Méquignon M, Cunningham C, Blake C, Fennelly O, Desmeules F. Benefits of Musculoskeletal Physical Therapy in Emergency Departments: A Systematic Review. Phys Ther. 2019 Sep 1;99(9):1150-1166.
  • Lafrance S, Doiron-Cadrin P, Saulnier M, Lamontagne M, Bureau NJ, Dyer J-O, Roy J-S, Desmeules F.Is ultrasound-guided lavage an effective intervention for rotator cuff calcific tendinopathy? A systematic review with a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2019, 5(1):e000506.
  • Doiron-Cadrin P, Kairy D, Vendittoli PA, Lowry V, Poitras S, Desmeules F: Feasibility and preliminary effects of a tele-prehabilitation program and an in-person prehablitation program compared to usual care for total hip or knee arthroplasty candidates: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Disabil Rehabil 2019:1-10.
  • Decary S, Feldman D, Fremont P, Pelletier JP, Martel-Pelletier J, Fallaha M, Pelletier B, Belzile S, Sylvestre MP, Vendittoli Pa, Desmeules F: Initial derivation of diagnostic clusters combining history elements and physical examination tests for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. Musculoskeletal Care 2018, 16(3):370-379.
  • Decary S, Fallaha M, Fremont P, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier JP, Feldman DE, Sylvestre MP, Vendittoli PA, Desmeules F: Diagnostic Validity of Combining History Elements and Physical Examination Tests for Traumatic and Degenerative Symptomatic Meniscal Tears. PM R 2018, 10(5):472-482.
  • Decary S, Fallaha M, Fremont P, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier JP, Feldman DE, Sylvestre MP, Vendittoli PA, Desmeules F: Diagnostic Validity of Combining History Elements and Physical Examination Tests for Traumatic and Degenerative Symptomatic Meniscal Tears. PM R 2018, 10(5):472-482.
  • Decary S, Fallaha M, Belzile S, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier JP, Feldman D, Sylvestre MP, Vendittoli PA, Desmeules F: Clinical diagnosis of partial or complete anterior cruciate ligament tears using patients' history elements and physical examination tests. PLoS One 2018, 13(6):e0198797.
  • Matifat E, Perreault K, Gagne M, Leveille M, Desmeules F: Medication recommendation by physiotherapists: A survey of Quebec physiotherapists' opinions regarding a new interprofessional model of care with pharmacists. J Eval Clin Pract 2018, 24(3):480-486.
  • Decary S, Fremont P, Pelletier B, Fallaha M, Belzile S, Martel-Pelletier J, Pelletier JP, Feldman D, Sylvestre MP, Vendittoli PA, Desmeules F: Validity of Combining History Elements and Physical Examination Tests to Diagnose Patellofemoral Pain. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2018, 99(4):607-614 e601.


  • Bachelor's degree, physiotherapy

    Université Laval

  • Master's degree, experimental medicine (rehabilitation)

    Université Laval

  • PhD, Epidemiology

    Université Laval

  • Postdoctoral fellowships

    Université de Montréal , Université McMaster, Université d’Alberta


  • Junior 2 Research Scholar  (FRQ-S)