Physiotherapy Students’ Awareness of Community Health in India
Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, CA
Pavithra Rajan has nine years of experience as a clinical and research physiotherapist. She is a silver medallist in physiotherapy from India and a Kinesiology graduate with specialization in community based rehabilitation from Canada. She has worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer - Research with Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India for one and half years. Her recent work assignment was as a Research Associate with the Centre for Economic Studies and Policy at the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore through Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada.
Currently, she is a Fellow with the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, Calgary, Canada and is pursuing her doctoral studies in Physiotherapy at University of Sydney, Australia.
Purpose: The study aimed to provide inputs that would help to promote Community Physiotherapy as a field of future study and work. While the focus was on undergraduate physiotherapy students’ perceptions, attitudes and beliefs regarding this field of specialisation, the study also attempted to find whether there were variations in attitude depending on which year of the programme the students belonged to.
Method: In December 2015, 118 students of a private physiotherapy college in Gujarat, India, took part in a self-administered questionnaire-based survey. Of these, 56 students were in the third year of their course, while the rest were in the final year. Written informed consent was taken from each respondent.
Results: While it was a positive finding to note that this cohort viewed physiotherapy as a service profession, majority of the students wished to pursue higher education outside India due to their perceptions about lack of adequate training facilities, salaries and scope for the profession within the country. For the majority, musculoskeletal sciences was the preferred area of specialisation, followed by Community Health. However, there was awareness about the importance of Community Physiotherapy.
Conclusion: Among undergraduate physiotherapy students in the study sample, musculoskeletal sciences is the preferred specialisation, followed by Community Physiotherapy. The year of the programme in which they were studying did not significantly affect their attitudes towards Community Physiotherapy.
Limitations: The sample size was too small to compare the differing attitudes of participants from different batches of the course. First and second-year students could not be included since the specialisation of Community Physiotherapy is introduced only in the third year.