Qualified Physiotherapists' Perceptions Of Their Role In The Management Of Obesity Within Scotland
(2013) Qualified Physiotherapists' Perceptions Of Their Role In The Management Of Obesity Within Scotland, no. 86.
Abstract Background. Treating and preventing obesity is a current 'hot topic' in healthcare. Overweight and Obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health (WHO., 2013). In light of the statistics on the rate of increase of obesity, health professionals can expect an increasing number of clinical encounters with people who are overweight or obese, and they are beginning to define their roles with this population (You et al, 2012). Physiotherapists are health care professionals who promote health, wellness, and fitness, and manage conditions affecting the movement and function of people who may be overweight or obese; they can therefore play an important role in the prevention and management of obesity. Although several studies have described the attitudes and knowledge of other allied health professionals working with people who are obese (Foster et al, 2003, Nolan et al, 2012), there is a paucity of research examining physiotherapists perceptions of their role in the management of obesity. Aim. The aim of this project was to examine qualified physiotherapists perceptions of their role in the management of individuals with obesity in Scotland, and identify their learning needs and the barriers facing them in the fulfilment of this role. Characteristics were examined to assess variations and common themes in perceptions of the role among physiotherapists. Results of this research project could be used by governing bodies and physiotherapy societies to make recommendations about how we can improve awareness of the role of the physiotherapist in the management of obesity and how we can develop the skills and knowledge to effectively contribute to addressing the problem. Methodology. This study was exploratory in nature, seeking to examine qualified physiotherapists perceptions of their role in the management of individuals with obesity, and identify their learning needs and the barriers facing them in the fulfilment of this role. Using used a mixed methods research synthesis, a cross sectional survey of physiotherapists from across Scotland was conducted using a self-completed online questionnaire. Findings. Physiotherapists believe they are currently involved in the management of obesity, and see their role as mainly one of prevention. Physiotherapists who responded to the study perceive themselves as having a variety of roles to play in the future management of obesity, primarily in areas of training interventions and in the treatment of secondary conditions associated with obesity. The perceived barriers and limitations physiotherapists felt hinder them in the management of obesity were largely specific to the system i.e. lack of a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment, time constraints and lack of funding and staffing hours. Physiotherapists also perceive a lack of client motivation and limited professional training or knowledge specific to the condition of obesity as barriers which may hinder him/her in the management of patients who are obese. Conclusion. Physiotherapy is constantly evolving; however advancing roles in the prevention and management of obesity need to be supported by robust regulations and infrastructures. It is hoped that the results of this study will be used by the National Health Service and professional bodies to investigate ways of developing physiotherapists' skills and knowledge in order to effectively contribute to addressing the obesity problem. The potential set up of multi-disciplinary teams, and the specification of national guidelines should be considered if the obesity epidemic is to be tackled. Whatever the solution, the current economic climate should be viewed as a catalyst for change and development rather than a barrier to progress.