Medical students' awareness of the role of physiotherapy in healthcare at the University of Zambia-Ridgeway Campus
Objectives: The main objective of this research was to determine the University of Zambia medical students' awareness of the role of physiotherapy in health care at Ridgeway Campus, School of Medicine.
Methods: This study was a descriptive crosssectional study. One hundred and fifty-two medical students of the University of Zambia participated in this study. Participants were recruited using simple random sampling. Each student completed a selfadministered questionnaire that obtained information on demographics, awareness of role of physiotherapists and educational sources of information. Chi-square test was used to analyze differences in awareness by gender and year of study.
Results: The results showed that there were more males (n=92; 60.5%) than females (n=60; 39.5%). The majority of participants were within the age range of 25–31 years (n=116; 76.3%). Although rates of awareness regarding some physiotherapy roles were high, many of the medical students were unaware that physiotherapists are capable of establishing diagnoses. About 83.6% (n=127) of the students also viewed the role of physiotherapists in the health team as one of providing assistance for medical work. Clinical ward rounds were identified as the most common source of information on physiotherapy. Year of study resulted in a significantly different level of awareness (p<0.05) with a higher proportion of sixth-year students exhibiting awareness of physiotherapists' roles.
Conclusion: The study revealed that medical students have low levels of awareness regarding the role of the Physiotherapists as related to the role of the medical doctors. Therefore, there is a need for physiotherapists to educate medical students about various specialties of physiotherapy like women's health, industrial health, cardiopulmonary dysfunction, and geriatrics physiotherapy.
Keywords: Awareness, Healthcare, Physiotherapy, Medical students, Inter-professional education