Exploring non-healthcare university students’ expectations, perceptions and beliefs of physiotherapy: A qualitative study
Question: What are the expectations of non-clinical students regarding physiotherapy and what influences these expectations? Design: A qualitative study including 1-1 semi-structured interviews and using a phenomenological approach. Participants: Five business university students from one higher education institution. Results: Data from five 1-1 semi-structured interviews was collected and four overarching themes emerged: Do patients play an active role within physiotherapy treatment?, Physiotherapy is harmful in the early stages of healing, NHS vs private practice, a perceived gap in the quality of care and influences on patient expectations. There were varying opinions portrayed regarding the patient role within physiotherapy treatment, some participants viewed physiotherapy treatment as a passive process and other participants acknowledged accountability as a patient. It was also established that participants felt physiotherapy treatment for acute injuries was inappropriate. Resting and preventing painful movement was deemed better practice. A theme emerged regarding a difference in quality of care between private practice and NHS physiotherapy services. Participants expected that care within the NHS setting would be sub-standard and their expectations could only be met within private practice. Influences considered to have shaped expectations included: television, internet, personal experiences, family and peers. Conclusion: Many factors influence expectations of physiotherapy including television, Internet, personal experiences, familial and peers. Outlying factors may contribute towards expectations such as health related locus of control, health beliefs and the so-called “placebo effect”. This expectation may affect treatment outcome and adherence.