Students and physiotherapists experience physiotherapy in particular ways: A phenomenologically oriented study Academic Article uri icon


  • Aim: To explore how students, recent graduates, and qualified physiotherapists experience physiotherapy practice. Design: Two-part phenomenologically oriented study. Thirteen physiotherapy students/recent graduates and 32 qualified physiotherapists were interviewed. The transcripts were analyzed to identify the ways of thinking and practicing (WTP) of physiotherapy. Results: Seven themes representing particular WTP in physiotherapy emerged from the interview data. Six were shared by all participants but understood in different ways. These related to the discovery of new knowledge; problem-solving client-related contexts; adopting a systems-based approach to the body; contributing to a positive therapeutic alliance; developing a sense of self and the profession; and the organization of the workforce. A final theme, professional citizenship, was only described by the qualified practitioners. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that physiotherapy practice can be characterized in six distinct ways, with a separate integrating idea that represents the relationship the individual practitioner has with the profession. The insights gained from this research suggest that new ways of thinking might benefit the profession, not least of all in relation to entry-level curriculum, contemporary practice and positioning of the profession for current health-care needs.

publication date

  • 2019