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New-graduate physiotherapists’ self-efficacy and preparedness for patient education practice: A mixed methods study

Sarah Wilesmith, Andrew Lao, Roma Forbes


Introduction: Patient education is a fundamental component of effective physiotherapypractice. Current literature suggests that physiotherapists may not be adequately prepared for patient education practice; however, perception of graduate preparedness for professional practice has not been explored. This study aimed to investigate newgraduate physiotherapists’ self-efficacy for practising patient education and explore their perceived preparedness for transitioning into this professional role.

Methods: This study utilised a sequential mixed-methods design. New-graduate physiotherapists completed the Patient Education Self Efficacy Scale at the conclusion of their pre-professional training (n = 149). Following entry to the workforce, a randomised sample of 15 of these individuals participated in semi-structured interviews exploring perceptions and experiences of practising patient education. Interview data were subject to framework analysis.

Results: Highest scoring self-efficacy items were: understanding the role of patient education and questioning to seek the patient’s perceptions and concerns about their condition. The lowest scoring item was: recognising and effectively managing barriers to effective education. Five themes emerged: (1) patient education is a powerful tool, (2) individualised education is highly valued, (3) decreased confidence when facing complexity, (4) overcoming patient-related barriers is challenging and (5) practical experience is critical for skill development.

Conclusion: New-graduate physiotherapists demonstrated high self-efficacy and perceived preparedness in most aspects of patient education. Interview findings corroborated survey results indicating that new graduates perceive difficulty in managing barriers to patient education and are challenged when facing complex situations. Direct experience was perceived as the most beneficial for enhancing self-efficacy and preparedness for patient education.


physiotherapy; new-graduate; self-efficacy; preparedness; patient education

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