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Training physiotherapists to be responsive to their clients’ health literacy needs


Bird, ML and Elmer, S and Osborne, RH and Flittner, A and O'Brien, JA, Training physiotherapists to be responsive to their clients' health literacy needs, Physiotherapy Theory and Practice ISSN 0959-3985 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

DOI: doi:10.1080/09593985.2020.1850956



To evaluate health literacy learning modules designed specifically for physiotherapists in private practice.


Mixed-method design was used, evaluating pre-post physiotherapist health literacy knowledge and competencies using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. One rural and one metropolitan private physiotherapy practice were recruited.


Clients, physiotherapists, and other clinic staff. The OPHELIA (Optimizing Health Literacy and Access) process was applied to identify the health literacy needs of clients; co-design interventions; and implement and evaluate the interventions. The health literacy learning modules were co-designed with the physiotherapists and included one 3-h face-to-face workshop, followed by two 1-h videoconference workshops. Health literacy knowledge (rated 1-5 for 10 items, max score 50) and skills (rated 1-5 for 5 items, max score 25) were assessed before and after the workshops. Data were analyzed by paired t-test. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed.


Health literacy knowledge of 19 health professionals improved after the workshop by 63% (pre 26.0 (7.5), post 41.0 (2.7), p < .001). Health literacy skills improved by 65% (pre 4.2 (3.3), post 21.8 (2.3), p < .001). We identified three themes from interview data: 1) 'the multi-faceted nature of health literacy requires multiple strategies'; 2) 'changing practice to promote understanding'; and 3) 'reflection on roles of multidisciplinary private practice.'

Practice Implications:

Improvements in health literacy knowledge and skills are possible through post-graduate professional development. Conclusion: Workshops changed physiotherapists' understanding of their role in promoting health literacy.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:physiotherapist, health education, client-centered, mixed methods, health literacy, evaluation, workshops, professional development
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Allied health and rehabilitation science
Research Field:Physiotherapy
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Determinants of health
UTAS Author:Bird, ML (Dr Marie-Louise Bird)
UTAS Author:Elmer, S (Dr Shandell Elmer)
UTAS Author:Flittner, A (Miss Anna Flittner)
UTAS Author:O'Brien, JA (Dr Jane O'Brien)
ID Code:142041
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Nursing
Deposited On:2020-12-09
Last Modified:2021-07-27

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