Physiother Res Int. 2022 Sep 14:e1974. doi: 10.1002/pri.1974. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Ensuring access to high quality services in paediatric physiotherapy (PT) is important to respond to the diverse needs of children. The accessibility and quality of paediatric PT services has however never been explored internationally. The purpose of this study is to explore the perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of paediatric PT services offered around the world.
METHOD: A cross-sectional survey design method was used with a subsample of physiotherapists (PTs) who had previously participated in an online survey. The survey used for this study included close- and open-ended questions about access to services and the SWOT of PT services within participants’ country. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize quantitative data and a content analysis was performed on open-ended questions.
RESULTS: Overall, 47 PTs from 47 countries completed the survey; 36% of participants reported that free access was available to all children in their country while 34% stated that a referral was always required when accessing services. Lack of direct access, insufficient specialized PT, financial and geographical issues were the main perceived barriers to access services. Access also emerged as one of the nine themes following the SWOT analysis. Other themes included education, quality of PT approaches, PT practices, communication and cooperation, teamwork, government, resources, and attitudes of PTs.
DISCUSSION: Despite variations in accessing services and how services are delivered across countries, some similar themes influencing PTs practices were found. Future opportunities for PTs working with children should aim at optimizing the initial training and professional development of PTs in paediatrics, increasing access to services for all children and advocating for sustainable and well-coordinated models of care building on best practices.