Users' experiences of physiotherapy treatment in a semi-urban public hospital in Kenya.
Gona JK., Newton CR., Geere JA., Hartley S.
INTRODUCTION: Physiotherapy practice in Africa faces a number of challenges, one of which is the limited number of therapists in most public hospitals. In Africa, physiotherapy is still mainly institution based with very little community-based practice, leading to lack of access to services for a large part of the population. This study explores users' perceptions of physiotherapy, challenges faced by users, possible options for management, and determines whether current physiotherapy practice in a rural Kilifi District general hospital in Kenya facilitates future self-management of chronic conditions. METHODS: Eight in-depth interviews, 3 focus groups discussions and 4 participant observations were conducted for data collection. All interviews and focus group discussions were recorded using a digital recorder, transcribed into the Swahili language and then translated into English. The transcriptions were imported to NVivo 9 (www.qsrinternational.com) for management and storage. Inductive data analysis was used to generate themes from the rich-text data of the transcriptions. RESULTS: Many of the users perceived physiotherapy as being effective. Challenges included distance from health facilities, negative experiences with some therapists, and lack of staff and equipment. Rehabilitation options included community- and home-based programs fostering self-management of chronic conditions. Current hospital practice lacks emphasis on self-management skills for patients with chronic conditions who can do their physiotherapy at home. CONCLUSIONS: Users' experiences of physiotherapy treatment in this rural hospital indicate that a host of challenges exist. In the face of these challenges, the needs of the users seemed to be compromised, especially those with chronic conditions<b><i>. </i></b>Rehabilitation services that are accessible and affordable would be better options in rural and low-resource settings. There is therefore need for community-based services that place emphasis on self-management of chronic conditions for fostering better health outcomes in rural communities.