Knowledge and attitudes of physiotherapy students about the role of physiotherapy in mental health
Gunduza, Ropafadzo Ruby
Background: There is a growing body of evidence in South Africa regarding the role of physiotherapists in mental health, and the knowledge and attitudes of physiotherapists regarding this role. However, little is known about physiotherapy students’ knowledge and attitudes regarding the role of physiotherapy in mental health. Purpose: To establish the knowledge and attitudes of undergraduate physiotherapy students about the role of physiotherapy in mental health. Methods: This was a descriptive, cross-sectional study. Third- and fourth- year undergraduate physiotherapy students at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa were invited to complete an online questionnaire about their knowledge and attitudes regarding the role of physiotherapy in mental health. The online questionnaire included the: Mental Health Knowledge Schedule (MAKS) and the Mental Illness Clinicians' Attitudes (MICA-4) scale. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) v27 was used for analysis. A univariate analysis was done to compare knowledge and attitude between third- and fourth year physiotherapy students. Results: Thirty-four students participated in this study, representing a response rate of 34%. The results indicated a moderate level of knowledge and a positive attitude towards mental health (MAKS score was 26.94 (SD 3.57), MICA-4 score was 39.12 (SD 16.12). The fourth-year students had a lower MAKS score (26.70) indicating more knowledge when compared to the third-year students, however this difference was not statistically significant. Conclusion: Third and fourth-year physiotherapy students have moderate knowledge and a positive attitude of the role of physiotherapy in mental health. However, further research across all universities is needed to determine whether receiving a lecture or course on mental health improves the knowledge and attitude of physiotherapy students. Thought could also be given to adding mental health to the current physiotherapy curriculum at Witwatersrand university.
A research report submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Physiotherapy to the Faculty of Health Science, School of Therapeutic Sciences University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022