Comparing patients’ and physiotherapists’ views of professionalism and professional standing: an Australian perspective
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Background: Professionalism in health care comprises adherence to professional values and ethical codes, discipline-specific standards of practice and competencies, and specific expectations about appearance and social standing. Specialisation in a particular area of practice further increases expectations of professionalism and competency-based standards.Objective: To investigate, in an Australian setting, patients? and physiotherapists? perceptions of the features and value of professionalism in specific physiotherapy practice contexts.Major Findings: The professional standing of physiotherapists was similar to that of chiropractors, with judges, general practitioners and solicitors more highly regarded by both patients and physiotherapists. Participants had similar views about the importance of several elements of professionalism. In response to questions about professional appearance, both patients and physiotherapists preferred business attire for male physiotherapists, whereas opinions varied for female physiotherapists. Patient/therapist views diverged regarding the link between specialisation and professionalism. Patient participants presented with a list of physiotherapists with differing nomenclature/titles to treat their back pain indicated they were more likely to select a physiotherapist with a special interest in back pain and factors such as location of the physiotherapy service and recommendations from a friend influenced their choice of physiotherapist. In contrast, physiotherapist participants responded that postgraduate qualifications, years of experience and facilities were more important in the choice of a physiotherapist.Conclusions: Patients and physiotherapists share some views on professional behaviours and values, professional appearance and standing within the community. They differ with regard to perceptions of specialisation and how extra qualifications add to their perception of trust and professionalism.
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