Original Research

The knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of physiotherapists and chiropractors in South Africa

Micaela Ravidutt, Sonill Maharaj
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 80, No 1 | a1922 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v80i1.1922 | © 2024 Micaela Ravidutt, Sonill Maharaj | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 May 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Micaela Ravidutt, Department of Chiropractic, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
Sonill Maharaj, Department of Physiotherapy, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Effective healthcare delivery occurs when health professionals collaborate and provide holistic, patient-centred care. Physiotherapists and chiropractors treat a common range of patients with an overlap in their scope of practice and modalities because of typical healthcare roles that could lead to ‘perceived’ animosity.

Objectives: To assess the knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of qualified chiropractors and physiotherapists regarding each other’s practice.

Method: A cross-sectional survey using an online questionnaire and analysed descriptively.

Results: Participants were chiropractors (n = 116) and physiotherapists (n = 190). Chiropractors achieved a mean knowledge score of 75.7%, with physiotherapists at 59.7% on the assessments of each other’s patients; an average score of 85.3% and 72.0% respectively, on knowledge of treatment modalities; knowledge score of 82.4% and 77.3% respectively, on the conditions treated by the other professional. A total of 82.8% (n = 96) of chiropractors and 70.0% (n = 133) of physiotherapists indicated the other professionals’ competence in treating neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Inter-professional referrals occurred between 81.9% of chiropractors (n = 95) and 55.3% of physiotherapists (n = 105). Chiropractors (69.0%, n = 80) and physiotherapists (55.3%, n = 105) wanted to collaborate to manage patients.

Conclusion: In the surveyed population in South Africa, chiropractors and physiotherapists had good knowledge, positive attitudes and perceptions of each other’s practices, especially in the private sector.

Clinical implications: Inter-professional collaboration between chiropractors and physiotherapists should be encouraged so that healthcare delivery can be holistic and patient-centred for better clinical outcomes.


chiropractors; physiotherapists; physiotherapy; chiropractic; knowledge; attitudes; perceptions; collaboration.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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