Exploring non-healthcare students expectations, perceptions and beliefs of Physiotherapy: A qualitative study.
Question: What are non-healthcare university student’s expectations, perceptions, and beliefs of Physiotherapy and the factors that influence these thoughts? Design: A qualitative study with the use of semi-structured interviews taking a phenomenological approach. Participants: Five undergraduate university students from the School of Business at a UK higher education institution. Results: Four overarching themes emerged from the interviews; (1) A narrow view of Physiotherapy exists, (2) Locus of Control – is the patient’s health in the hands of the therapist or their own? (3) NHS Physiotherapy services versus private practice, and (4) Past experiences and various sources of media influence perceptions of Physiotherapy. Participants appeared most knowledgeable about musculoskeletal aspects of Physiotherapy in comparison to other clinical areas Physiotherapists may be involved. Locus of control and a patient’s stance on this appeared to be an important aspect of the participant’s beliefs surrounding a general recovery process. Negative connotations were associated with the NHS Physiotherapy services, with an expectation one would receive lower quality of care from the NHS in comparison to private practice Physiotherapy. Various past experiences and sources of media emerged as the most prevalent influencing factors of these expectations, perceptions, and beliefs. Conclusion: Expectations, perceptions and beliefs of Physiotherapy are individual although findings from this study suggest that trends exist. Eliciting these opinions prior or from the outset of a healthcare encounter could be beneficial for enhancing the quality of care and achieving optimal outcomes.