Original Research

The perceived barriers and facilitators in completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy

Nicolette Comley-White, Joanne Potterton
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 74, No 1 | a445 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v74i1.445 | © 2018 Nicolette Comley-White, Joanne Potterton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 December 2017 | Published: 30 May 2018

About the author(s)

Nicolette Comley-White, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Joanne Potterton, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Background: Participating in postgraduate study is daunting and as yet there is a dearth of literature on what students’ experiences are when obtaining their Master’s degree in Physiotherapy.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to gain insight into the perceived barriers and facilitators in completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy.

Method: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 physiotherapists who had completed a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from a university in South Africa, representative of coursework and dissertation Master’s degrees, completed within the stipulated time period as well as taking longer to complete the degree. The topics covered a range of speciality areas. The interviews were transcribed, sent for member checking and analysed thematically.

Results: Within 10 interviews data saturation was reached. Two themes were identified: research environment and support, both of which were seen as either a facilitator or a barrier, depending on the participant. The theme of research environment was divided into categories of workplace and data collection. The second theme, support, was also seen as either a barrier or a facilitator. This theme encapsulated the categories of supervisor support, workplace support and a personal support network.

Conclusion: The research environment and support are two major factors that can influence the experience of obtaining a master’s degree in physiotherapy, both positively and negatively.

Clinical implications: With increasing numbers of physiotherapists obtaining postgraduate degrees, universities need to facilitate the process of obtaining the degree, which will ensure more physiotherapists with postgraduate degrees, thereby strengthening the profession.


Postgraduate; masters; physiotherapy; barriers; facilitators; experiences


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Crossref Citations

1. Qualitative research in physiotherapy: A systematic mapping review of 20 years literature from sub-Saharan Africa
Michael Kalu, Augustine Okoh, Chukwuebuka Okeke, Ebuka Anieto, Michael Ibekaku, Ukachukwu Abaraogu
Physiotherapy Theory and Practice  first page: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1080/09593985.2022.2028952