Physiotherapy students’ perceptions of engagement with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities during clinical placement




culturally and linguistically diverse, physiotherapy, clinical placement, qualitative interviews, experiences


Introduction: Student physiotherapists’ perceptions and experiences when working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia have not been explored. Understanding the perceptions of student physiotherapists in this context may inform educational experiences in the pursuit of culturally responsive care. Therefore, this paper explores the perceptions and experiences of student physiotherapists engaging with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities during clinical placement.

Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews (n = 13) were conducted between March and September 2022 with final-year physiotherapy students from a single cohort at a single tertiary institution. Data were subject to reflexive thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes were generated from the data: 1) culture is a challenge for all stakeholders in health, 2) adapting care and communication, 3) modelling from clinical educators and 4) university preparation. Students understood that culture significantly impacts health and that healthcare must be responsive to culture to be appropriate for a person from a culturally and linguistically diverse community. Understanding and being responsive to the unique attitudes, values and beliefs of each individual underpinned student physiotherapists’ perception of how healthcare can be culturally responsive, and this was viewed as a pivotal principle of person-centred care.

Conclusion: Recommendations are made for stakeholders in physiotherapy clinical education to support opportunities for the development of cultural responsivity during physiotherapy training. University educators are encouraged to consider evaluating the volume and method in which cultural responsivity training is included in physiotherapy programs. Similarly, clinical educators are encouraged to integrate available frameworks for culturally safe practice that are appropriate to their setting of work.


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How to Cite

Martin, R., Neish, C., Su, Y.-J., Mandrusiak, A., Donovan, M., Dunwoodie, R., & Forbes, R. (2024). Physiotherapy students’ perceptions of engagement with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities during clinical placement. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 25(2), 20–35.