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Perceptions of physiotherapists on disability: awareness and health promotion.

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Background: The lack of effective accommodation and integration of people living with disabilities in the community raises the need for rehabilitation professionals such as physiotherapists to deliver disability awareness programmes. These programmes aim to reduce environmental and attitudinal barriers that exist in their communities. Limited information about the perceptions of physiotherapists in South Africa on disability awareness programmes is available. Objectives: To explore perceptions of physiotherapists on disability awareness programmes as a health promotion strategy in public healthcare. Method: Two focus group discussions were conducted with public healthcare physiotherapists employed at urban and rural facilities. Transcribed data were analysed using conventional content thematic analysis and described perceptions of participating physiotherapists on disability and disability awareness programmes targeting community awareness. Results: The discussions revealed five major themes, namely, knowledge dearth consequence, personal factors, facilitators to disability awareness programmes, barriers to disability awareness programmes, and recommendations. Conclusion: The need to address the barriers to disability awareness programmes is essential to advocate for disability issues that pose environmental and attitudinal barriers to access in all areas of society. Access to healthcare is hindered by lack of understanding and subsequent behaviour including stigmatisation of people with disabilities. Therefore, it is essential for rehabilitation professionals to offer comprehensive disability culturally sensitive awareness programmes to communities in order to influence attitudes and behaviour toward people with disabilities.


Master’s degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.