Consumer preferences regarding physiotherapy practitioners in emergency departments – a qualitative investigation

Dr Stephen Gill1, Dr Julian Stella1, Dr Luke McManus1, Mr Peter Schoch1

1Barwon Health, Geelong, Australia

Aim: Investigate consumer opinions and preferences regarding Physiotherapy Practitioners (PP) in Emergency Departments (ED).

Method: Twenty-two members of the organisation’s Consumer Representative Program participated in focus groups which were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were extracted using an emergent-systematic design and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes were identified. 1) Consumers accepted that reform is necessary to improve care, make better use of resources and create sustainable services for the future. 2) Consumer preferences varied regarding who they wanted as their primary clinician. Some consumers did not mind who provided their care, as long as they received appropriate care. Others thought doctors would provide superior care and wanted to see a doctor first. A third group indicated that not everyone who presented to ED needed to see a doctor; care could be provided by PPs for certain conditions. 3) Consumers identified a core set of desirable attributes that applied to all staff members, regardless of their role. The expression of these attributes will vary according to circumstances and each staff member’s scope of practice. 4) Consumers expected effective governance so that every staff member was safe, effective and adequately supervised.

Significance of the findings to allied health: Consumers endorse reform. The design and implementation of advance practice roles should recognise that consumers have common expectations for the content and governance of care, but individuals’ preferences vary regarding who provides care.