Opportunities to become involved in scientific research within Austrian physiotherapists' practice environments : perceived importance versus realisation

Kulnik, Stefan Tino, Latzke, Markus, Putz, Peter, Schlegl, Constance, Sorge, Martina and Meriaux-Kratochvila, Silvia (2020) Opportunities to become involved in scientific research within Austrian physiotherapists' practice environments : perceived importance versus realisation. In: 5th European Congress : Physiotherapy Education : Europe Region World Physiotherapy Online 2020; 11 Sep 2020, Leuven, Belgium (held online). (Unpublished)


Background: The application of science is important for physiotherapy practice, but levels of scientific/academic physiotherapy education and practice vary between countries. In Austria, physiotherapists have been qualifying at bachelor level only since 2009. It is unknown to what extent practising physiotherapists in Austria have opportunity to become involved in scientific research, and how this impacts job satisfaction. Methods: In spring 2019, an anonymous cross-sectional online survey was disseminated via professional networks and completed by a convenience sample of 586 qualified physiotherapists in Austria. Respondents rated generic and research-related items of job satisfaction with respect to personal importance and realisation in their current workplace, on a scale from 7 (very important/fully realised) to 1 (unimportant/not at all realised). Data were analysed descriptively and using Wilcoxon Signed Rank test (two-sided, alpha=0.05). Results: Most respondents were female (n=456/77.8%) and in age groups 26-35 (n=149/25.4%), 36-45 (n=178/30.4%) and 46-55 years (n=173/29.5%). One-hundred sixty-four (28.0%) had qualified since 2009. Most were self-employed (n=342/57.3%) or combined self-employed/employed (n=139/23.3%). One third (n=194/33.1%) were engaged in teaching and education. Ratings for generic job satisfaction items were overall high, e.g. ‘financial security’: mean (SD) importance 6.2 (0.9), realisation 5.7 (1.2). Research-related items were rated of high to moderate importance and moderate to low realisation, e.g. ‘support to develop into a researcher role’: mean (SD) importance 4.4 (2.0), realisation 3.2 (2.0); ‘contributing to research projects’: importance 4.4 (1.9), realisation 3.1 (2.0). For all research-related items importance was rated significantly higher (p<0.001) than realisation, with effect sizes ranging from small (r=-0.17) to medium (r=-0.33). Discussion: On average, physiotherapists in this sample considered opportunities to become involved in scientific research to be important, but less so than generic aspects of job satisfaction. Importance of research-related aspects was consistently rated greater than their realisation. A study limitation relates to the sampling strategy, resulting in a self-selected convenience sample with possible prior interest in research. The sample represents 4.0% of 14,705 state-registered physiotherapists in Austria. Conclusion: There is scope for developing research opportunities for practising physiotherapists in Austria to facilitate linkage between the clinical and scientific domains, and to ultimately benefit patient care.

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