Original Research

Physiotherapy students’ knowledge and attitudes about their role in mental health

Ropafadzo R. Gunduza, Sandy Lord, Monique M. Keller
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 79, No 1 | a1867 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v79i1.1867 | © 2023 Ropafadzo R. Gunduza, Sandy Lord, Monique M. Keller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2022 | Published: 11 July 2023

About the author(s)

Ropafadzo R. Gunduza, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sandy Lord, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Monique M. Keller, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Therapeutic Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: As the prevalence of mental health disorders (MHD) increases, physiotherapy students will be increasingly exposed to patients with MHD in their undergraduate studies. International research has shown that students who have mental health included in their curriculum have more knowledge and positive attitudes towards patients with MHD. In South Africa, little is known about physiotherapy students’ attitudes towards and knowledge of mental health.

Objectives: To establish the knowledge of and attitudes towards the role of physiotherapy in determining the mental health attitudes.

Method: In our cross-sectional, descriptive study, third- and fourth-year physiotherapy students at the University of the Witwatersrand were purposefully sampled. Online questionnaires, based on the Mental Health Knowledge Schedule (MAKS) and Mental Illness Clinicians’ Attitudes (MICA) scales were completed.

Results: Thirty-four students participated in our study. Overall, all students indicated a moderate level of knowledge and a positive attitude towards mental health with mean MAKS score: 26.94 (standard deviation [s.d.]: 3.57) and MICA-4 score: 39.12 (s.d.: 16.12). Fourth-year students had more knowledge and a better attitude towards mental health when compared to the third-year students.

Conclusion: Third- and fourth-year University of the Witwatersrand physiotherapy students have moderate knowledge and a positive attitude towards the role of physiotherapy in mental health.

Clinical implications: The inclusion of mental health in the physiotherapy curriculum may improve students’ knowledge and attitudes towards mental health and prepare them for managing these complex patients in the future.


Keywords

mental health; mental illness; knowledge; attitudes; physiotherapy; physiotherapy students

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Crossref Citations

1. Beliefs and Self-Perceptions of Spanish Mental Health Professionals about Physical Therapy in Mental Health: An Observational Survey Study
Cristina Bravo, Emilio Minano-Garrido, Lidia Carballo-Costa, Miguel Muñoz-Cruzado y Barba, Silvia Solé, Francesc Rubí-Carnacea, Daniel Catalan-Matamoros
Healthcare  vol: 11  issue: 24  first page: 3136  year: 2023  
doi: 10.3390/healthcare11243136