South African Family Practice

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‘Treating a patient should be approached in a holistic manner’: collaboration of doctors and physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of people living with HIV

Stacy Maddocks, Verusia Chetty, Arishna Maghoo, Nkuleleko Mhlongo, Nsindiso Mthembu, Sinempilo Khanyile, Siphokazi Chiliza, Tyrel Munsamy, Zanele Gamede, Slindile Mazibukoc


People living with HIV facing impairments and subsequent disabilities related to the virus and its treatment require involvement of a collaborative team of healthcare professionals to ensure reintegration into daily life and community living. Healthcare teams responsible for this care include doctors and physiotherapists. This paper explores the collaboration of doctors and physiotherapists in the rehabilitation of people living with HIV in a semi-rural healthcare setting in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Six doctors and two physiotherapists were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide. The qualitative approach led to the emergence of five themes, namely a biomedical versus biopsychosocial approach; scope of practice challenge; multidisciplinary team enigma; institutional structure limitations; and recommendations from healthcare professionals. Both groups of professionals believed that a lack of understanding of the scope of practice and role of the associate profession in the multidisciplinary team led to poor referrals and lack of communication. Furthermore, shortage of personnel and resource limitations posed barriers to effective team interaction. Timely referrals, good communication and understanding of roles were suggested as endorsements to improved collaboration.

Keywords: Collaboration, doctors, HIV, multidisciplinary, physiotherapists, rehabilitation
AJOL African Journals Online