WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Direct access to Physiotherapy in Harare - How Physiotherapists practice and outpatient's views.
Dorcas Mary Madzivire

Last modified: 2012-02-07


Purpose: direct access to physiotherapy has been adopted in many cpountries for example UK, USA, Australia, as a way to improve access in primary heathcare. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of direct access, how physiotherapists practice and patients' attitudes toward this mode of service in Harare, Zimbabwe. The information gathered would help to to determine the growth of the physiotherapy profession as an autonomous profession in Zimbabwe. Participants: Eight physiotherapy practices;22 physiotherapists and 35 outpatients. Method: cross-sectional descriptive study .Two questionnaires were used, one for therapists and the other for clients. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the data. Results:  15 patients were self referral and 20 were referred by their doctor.Majority of clients supported concept of direct access(62.8%) 22/35. Highest was among patients who had self referred 14/15 than those freferred by their doctor.The most common conditions found to be self referred were back pain and sports injuries. The majority of therapists (95.4%) fully supported the concept of self referral and expressed total confidence in managing self referred clients. The extent of direct access in these settings was between 20% and 30 % of all clients. Conclusion: Patient self referral to physiotherapy is not uncommon. There appears to be no problem in the acceptance of this mode of access to PT among most patients and also high level of satisfaction with physiotherapy management was reported by clients who had self referred. It is therefore appropriate to conclude that direct access to PT can be relied upon and is cost effective. Above all, it would aid in early control of symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders clarified as back pain, sports injuries,(muscle strains and spraints, trigger points) and also in the management of function and mobility.Implecations:  The results of this study demonstrated that there is a great need to empower the public with knowledge of PT so as to promote direct access. This is an important tool to move physiotherapy forward in the Africa Region.          

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