Survey of Canadian physiotherapists: Entry-level and post-professional education in women's health

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Purpose: The aims of this study were to identify (1) practice patterns of Canadian physiotherapists who consider themselves women's health providers or educators (WHPTs); (2) WHPTs' perception of the relative importance of entry-level and post-professional education curricular content directed at women's health issues; and (3) WHPTs' patterns and preferences with respect to continuing education. Method: A survey link was sent via e-mail to all 429 members of the Women's Health Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and to physiotherapist educators at the 14 Canadian physiotherapy programmes. Results: A total of 114 WHPTs responded (27%), including 16 educators. Of the 114 respondents, 53% spent less than 25% of their practice specifically treating women's health issues. Over half of the 114 respondents felt that entry-level preparation must include aging issues, musculoskeletal dysfunction, osteoporosis, and sports injuries in women. Respondents' stated that post-professional education should also include female anatomy, obstetrics and gynecology, pelvic floor assessment, treatment of urogenital concerns, complications of cancer, wellness and health promotion, and research. Most respondents (63%) showed interest in achieving continuing-education credentials in women's health, preferably using a combined theoretical online and hands-on weekend-based format. Conclusions: The survey results suggest that WHPTs practising in Canada seek post-professional training with an emphasis on pelvic floor assessment and treatment, obstetrics and gynecology, urogenital concerns, complications of cancer, wellness and health promotion, and research. Future research should focus on the barriers to devoting full-time practice hours to WHPTs.

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