Muller Journal of Medical Sciences and Research

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2020  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65--70

Awareness and perception of physiotherapy practice among career educators in selected secondary schools in Nigeria


Samuel Olufemi Bolarinde, Temitope Victor Owoyemi, Ayodeji Ojo Obaya, Michael Nanimebila 
 Department of Physiotherapy, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Samuel Olufemi Bolarinde
Department of Physiotherapy, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State
Nigeria

Abstract

Context: High school career educators educate and counsel senior students on choice of career. The pursuit of a career in physiotherapy depends largely on the information available to the students. Aims: The aim of the study is to investigate the level of awareness and perception of the physiotherapy profession among secondary school career educators. Settings and Design: The cross-sectional study recruited 49 secondary school career educators in both public and private secondary schools in Owo local government area of Ondo-state, South-western Nigeria. Subjects and Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on the level of awareness and knowledge about physiotherapy. Statistical Analysis Used: Data were summarized using mean, standard deviation, frequency, and percentiles. Results: About 95.5% of school career educators are aware of physiotherapy. 77.6% are aware that physiotherapy can be studied in university, while others believe that it can be studied in polytechnic (4.1%), college of education (2.0%), and technical schools (6.1%). 51.0% knew about adequate subject combination for gaining admission to study physiotherapy, while 49.0% did not know about the adequate subject combination. The overall knowledge score of <48.0% among school career educators indicated inadequate knowledge about physiotherapy practice, treatment modalities, and specialties. Conclusions: Secondary school career educators in this study demonstrated a high level of awareness about physiotherapy. However, their knowledge about the practice of physiotherapy, treatment modalities, specialties, and employability in institutions other than government own health facilities remains inadequate. The professional body of physiotherapy should organize programs aimed at improving the knowledge of secondary school career educators about the practice of physiotherapy.



How to cite this article:
Bolarinde SO, Owoyemi TV, Obaya AO, Nanimebila M. Awareness and perception of physiotherapy practice among career educators in selected secondary schools in Nigeria.Muller J Med Sci Res 2020;11:65-70


How to cite this URL:
Bolarinde SO, Owoyemi TV, Obaya AO, Nanimebila M. Awareness and perception of physiotherapy practice among career educators in selected secondary schools in Nigeria. Muller J Med Sci Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jun 23 ];11:65-70
Available from: https://www.mjmsr.net/text.asp?2020/11/2/65/316697


Full Text



 Introduction



Physiotherapy is one of the dynamic professions in the field of health. It is a profession with the established theoretical and clinical application of knowledge about normal body function and disease pathology in the preservation, development, and restoration of movement and function within the body.[1] Physiotherapists are health-care professionals concerned with the promotion of health and well-being of individuals through assessment, treatment and prevention of impairments, functional limitations, and disability in individuals at risk of altered movement behaviors due to health or medically related factors, socioeconomic stressors, and lifestyle factors.[2]

Physiotherapy education which started in Nigeria in 1966 has grown beyond the award of Bachelor Degree in Physiotherapy. Many universities now graduate students yearly in various areas of specialties in physiotherapy at Master and Doctorate degree levels of education. In the Nigerian educational system, the decision on the choice of future career starts from senior secondary school. The senior secondary class has various branches of studies such as science, art, and commercial based subjects. The branch of studies chosen by the students remains a pointer to the future career. The students in science-based subject class are eligible to pursue health-related courses such as medicine, physiotherapy, medical laboratory science, and nursing.[3] The desire to pursue physiotherapy as a career by senior school students after secondary school education depends on adequate information about the profession.

Information about various occupations and professions is an important factor when making one's future career choice.[4] Information on the choice of career is often disseminated to students through career counseling and career talk programs which are often handled by their school career educators. However, many secondary school career educators who disseminate this information seem to be inadequately equipped with appropriate knowledge on some professional careers like physiotherapy. It has also been shown that most students still lack appropriate information and are therefore unaware of the vast career opportunities open to them.[5]

Various studies have reported poor level of knowledge and perception of the physiotherapy profession by the general public and other health-care professionals. For instance, van Lieshout[6] reported limited knowledge of physiotherapy among health workers in Papua New Guinea while Holdsworth et al. reported that physicians perceive physiotherapists as complement practitioners for the management of orthopedic conditions.[7] Similarly report of studies carried out among high school students reported low level of awareness, inadequate knowledge, and poor perception of the physiotherapy profession.[8],[9],[10]

Physiotherapy being one of the health-care professions has a great role to play in the health system, however it seems to lack a clear identity with the public who demonstrates limited awareness and understanding of the scope of the profession's role, therefore have difficulty differentiating it from alternate practitioners.[11],[12] Although few researches have been conducted in Nigeria to evaluate the awareness of physiotherapy among senior secondary students, there seems to be paucity of studies on the awareness and perception of physiotherapy among school career educators. The purpose of the study, therefore, was to assess the level of awareness and perception of the physiotherapy profession among secondary school career educators in the Owo local government area of south-western Nigeria.

 Subjects and Methods



The cross-sectional survey recruited 49 secondary school career educators. They were drawn from both government (public) and private own secondary schools in Owo local government area of Ondo-state, South-western Nigeria. The study protocol was approved by the Health Research Ethics Committee of Federal Medical Centre, Owo (FMC/OW/380/LIX/108). The rationale behind the study was explained to all participants and informed consent was obtained before their participation. The survey instrument for the study was four parts, self-administered questionnaire. Part A consisted of the demographic data of participants. Part B sought information on awareness and source of information regarding physiotherapy. Part C was on knowledge about physiotherapy practice (adapted from the study of Dissanayaka and Banneheka),[9] whereas Part D obtained information on career counseling about physiotherapy. Data obtained were summarized using Statistical Package for the Social Science version 20.0 software (IBM Corp, IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, version 20.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp). Descriptive statistics of means, standard deviation, percentages, and frequency table were used to present the results.

 Results



A total of 49 carrier educators participated in this study. 17 (34.7%) were males, while 32 (65.3%) were females. 32 (65.3%) were private schools' carrier educators, while 17 (34.7%) were public schools' carrier educators. The age group with the highest frequency was 36–40 years (38.7%), while 21–25 years (6.1%) was the age group with least frequency. Demographic characteristics of carrier educators are shown in [Table 1].{Table 1}

[Table 2] shows participants' responses on awareness of physiotherapy and source of information. The results showed that 95.9% (47) of the career educators are aware and have heard of physiotherapy. The highest source of information about physiotherapy among career educators was through personal contact with physiotherapists (13, 26.5%), followed by nonphysiotherapists medical personnel (10, 20.4%), friends/family members (7, 14.3%), visit to the hospital (6, 12.2%), while radio and television (3, 6.1%) was the least source of information. About 77.6% (38) of the career educators are aware that physiotherapy can be studied in university, while others believe that it can be studied in polytechnic (4.1%), technical schools (6.1%), and college of education (2.0%). 51.0% (25) knew about adequate subject combination for gaining admission to study physiotherapy in a tertiary institution, while 49.0% (24) did not know about the adequate subject combination.{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows the results on knowledge about physiotherapy practice. A greater proportion of the career educators knows that physiotherapy is neither practiced by medical doctors (30, 61.2%) nor masseurs (45, 89.8%). 49.0% of the career educators are aware of the utilization of gymnasium with exercising machines, gymnasium ball, and other equipment, 14.3% electrical modalities, 36.7% manual treatments involving usage of bandages, tapes, and splints, while none (0.0%) knows about the utilization of a therapeutic pool (hydrotherapy).{Table 3}

Greater proportion (51.1%) of the respondents are aware that physiotherapy services involves the use of electrotherapy and exercise therapy in patients' care, 18.4% in the use of manual therapy, 8.2% in hydrotherapy while only 4.1% are aware of the use of ice/ heat therapy. Majority of the respondents (95.9%) knows about the roles of physiotherapy in pediatric conditions, 49.0% in musculoskeletal conditions and 40.8% in neurological conditions while none (0.0%) knows about physiotherapy roles in chest conditions. The result also revealed that, 67.3% of the participants know that physiotherapists work in government hospital, 6.1% in sports centers, 2.0% in both private hospitals and clinics while none knows that physiotherapists can work in nongovernmental organization (NGO).

[Table 4] shows the final scores on knowledge of participants about physiotherapy services. The questionnaire about knowledge of physiotherapy services contained 31 questions with a possible correct score of 31. The mean score for the knowledge of physiotherapy services among career educators was 10.40 ± 1.21 with a minimum score of 6.00 and maximum score of 12.00 out of a possible correct of 31.00. These overall scores were categorized into adequate knowledge, fair knowledge, and inadequate knowledge. Adequate knowledge score ranged from 21.0 to 31.0 (>67%), fair knowledge score ranged from 15.0 to 20.0 (48%–65%), and inadequate knowledge ranged from 0 to 14.0 (<47%). The result shows that career educators have inadequate knowledge about physiotherapy services.{Table 4}

[Table 5] shows the responses of career educators concerning physiotherapy as a career. The result shows that 55.1% (27) of career educators had counseled students to choose physiotherapy as a career, while 22 (44.9%) have never counseled students. About 89.7% (44) agreed to advise students to pursue physiotherapy as career when nest the opportunity comes.{Table 5}

 Discussion



This study was conducted to assess the level of awareness and perception of physiotherapy practice among secondary school career educators. This study found a very high level of awareness (95.9%) among the career educators. This shows that majority have heard about physiotherapy and will not have difficulties introducing it to their students. There seems to be no previous studies that assessed awareness of physiotherapy among secondary school teachers or career educators to which the present result could be compared, however the findings of this study supported findings by Olawale and Adjabeng and Maruf et al. where a large percentage were familiar with physiotherapy.[13],[14] Findings of this study show that personal contact with physiotherapists and other health professionals are the major sources of information among career educators. The high level of awareness observed in this study could be attributed to increase in the level of publicity about physiotherapy over the past few years and the availability of physiotherapy facilities in the study environment.

Majority of the career educator (77%) are aware that physiotherapy is studied in the universities, while only half of them knows about adequate subject combination for university admission. This shows that career educators are not knowledgeable enough about physiotherapy admission requirements. Furthermore, findings on knowledge of physiotherapy revealed that almost all the participants (91.8%) know that physiotherapists are not masseurs. Similarly, 61.2% are aware that physiotherapy is not practiced by doctors. This finding seems a positive finding because the general public finds it difficult distinguishing a medical doctors or dentists from physiotherapists due to the white coat syndrome because the white coat has exclusively served as a dominant sign of physicians for over 100 years.[15],[16]

Findings about career educators' knowledge of physiotherapy treatment modalities appear inadequate. Majority of the career educators are not aware of the use of manual therapy, ice/heat therapy, and hydrotherapy in patient's management. Responses on knowledge of the role of physiotherapy in other medical conditions than sports injuries show that pediatric medical condition has the highest awareness, followed by other subspecialties such as musculoskeletal conditions and neurological conditions. This finding contradicts the findings by Ogiwara and Nozoe, Olawale and Adjabeng, and Maruf et al. where musculoskeletal conditions such as disorders of bones and joints were found to be the most known subspecialty in physiotherapy.[10],[13],[14]

A larger proportion (67.3%) of the career educators in this study are aware that physiotherapists work in government hospitals, while other places such as private clinics, private hospitals, sports centers, and NGOs are not fully recognized by the participants. These findings may be attributed to few or lack of private physiotherapy facilities, lack of utilization of physiotherapy services by private hospital owners in the study environment, thereby making the general public associating a physiotherapist typical work environment to a government hospital.[13]

The overall knowledge assessment of career educators in this study reveals that all the participants have inadequate knowledge about physiotherapy services as the average mean score of 10.40 ± 1.21 out of a possible total score of 31.0 was observed. This finding supported the findings from the study conducted by Mbada et al. and van Lieshout.[6],[17] The observed inadequate knowledge about physiotherapy services may be due to lack of information on the scope of physiotherapy practice, modalities for treatment, and inadequate physiotherapy centers in the study environment. Furthermore, the high level of importance attached to the age-long cultural belief in traditional bone setters for orthopedic injuries in the study environment might have limited their contact with physiotherapist through whom they can be enlightened.

Findings from this study also show that more than half (55.1%) of career educators have talked about physiotherapy as a career, while larger proportion (89.7%) are willing to talk about physiotherapy when next they have the opportunity. This finding is in line with the findings by Maruf et al. where majority of the participants would like to encourage their relative to be a physiotherapist.[14]

 Conclusions



Secondary school career educators in this study demonstrated a high level of awareness about physiotherapy. However, their knowledge about the practice of physiotherapy, treatment modalities, specialties, and employability in institutions other than government own health facilities remains inadequate.

It is recommended that the professional body of physiotherapy should organize programs aimed at improving the knowledge of secondary school career educators about the practice of physiotherapy, treatment modalities, and specialties. Physiotherapy professionals should also use the mass media to create more awareness among the general public.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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