University Of Tasmania

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Physiotherapy students’ experiences of working with people with dementia during their clinical placements: a qualitative study

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 05:13 authored by Hunter, S, Michele CallisayaMichele Callisaya, Katherine LawlerKatherine Lawler

Purpose:To explore the experiences of physiotherapy students on working with people with dementia during their clinical placements.

Methods: Qualitative study using a Web-based survey of students in a 2-year entry-level Masters of Physical Therapy (MPT) program. Sstudents were asked to reflect on their experiences during clinical placements within the MPT program. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the survey responses.

Results: A total of 55 students (93%) completed the survey. Two overarching themes were mastery and inequity. Mastery described dementia care physiotherapy as a complex and potentially rewarding area of practice, requiring education and development throughout the professional continuum from student to expert. Inequity captured the barriers people with dementia experience to receiving excellent physiotherapy care. Six categories supported the themes: 1) physiotherapist characteristics for a successful therapeutic relationship; 2) communication strategies; 3) best practice physiotherapy skills and knowledge; 4) education strategies; 5) desire to work with people living with dementia; and 6) equity.

Conclusions: The study found physiotherapy students' experiences were informed by the preceptors' approach to delivery of care for people living with dementia. The students also articulated areas they wish they had known before placement and provided suggestions for teaching development in this area.


Publication title

Physiotherapy Theory and Practice






Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Taylor & Francis Inc

Place of publication

United States

Rights statement

© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Higher education; Allied health therapies (excl. mental health services); Health related to ageing

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