Original Research

Undergraduate physiotherapy students’ knowledge of Diabetes Mellitus: Implications for education

T. Steyl
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 67, No 3 | a48 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v67i3.48 | © 2011 T. Steyl | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 January 2011 | Published: 06 January 2011

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T. Steyl, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

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Diabetes  mellitus  is  a  growing  public  health  concern  and its prevalence is  escalating  exponentially,  with  a  high  frequency  of morbidity, premature mortality, disability and loss of productivity.  Since health education has  become  an  important  part  of  medical  care physiotherapy  students  are potentially  well  suited  to  assist  with  the combat  of  this  disease.    The  study aimed  to  determine  the  knowledge of  diabetes  mellitus  and  its  risk  factors  of undergraduate physiotherapy students  in  the  Western  Cape.  The  study  incorporated  a  quantitative, cross-sectional design.  Three hundred and thirty eight (338) students completed the structured, self-administered questionnaire consisting of three sections, namely  socio-demographic information, diabetes mellitus risk factors and the validated 24-item diabetes Knowledge Questionnaire (dKQ-24). Both descriptive and inferential statistics were employed  and the alpha level was set at p < 0.05.  overall, 60.7% of the study sample had adequate knowledge of diabetes mellitus (≥ 75% correct answers), while 32.5% and 6.8% had marginal (≥60 ≤ 74% correct answers) and inadequate knowledge (<59% correct answers) respectively. Seven of the nine diabetes mellitus risk factors could readily be identified by 89.7% of the participants.  Smoking (64.8%) and high blood pressure (69.0%) were not readily identified as common diabetes mellitus risk factors. Significant associations with diabetes risk factors were found for gender and year of study. The study has reinforced the need for continuous education of physiotherapy students regarding diabetes mellitus and its risk factors, as inadequate knowledge of diabetes mellitus could influence the effectiveness of patient education and therefore have dangerous consequences for the patient diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.


diabetes mellitus; risk factors; knowledge; physiotherapy students


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