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Demographic transformation of the physiotherapy profession in South Africa: A retrospective analysis of HPCSA registrations from 1938 to 2018

Quinette Abigail Louw, Quinette Abigail Louw, Karina Berner, Karina Berner, Tiwari, Ritika ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5078-8989, Dawn Ernstzen, Dawn Ernstzen, Diribsa Tsegaye Bedada, Diribsa Tsegaye Bedada, Marisa Coetzee, Marisa Coetzee and Usuf Chikte, Usuf Chikte (2020) Demographic transformation of the physiotherapy profession in South Africa: A retrospective analysis of HPCSA registrations from 1938 to 2018. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 27 (4). pp. 907-916.

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Rationale, aim and objective
The physiotherapy profession did not escape the effects of racially based segregatory practises. While numerous strategies and initiatives have been employed to redress the inequities of the past, the extent of demographic transformation within the physiotherapy profession in South Africa remains uncertain. Transformation is defined in this article as an intentional change aimed at addressing inequalities and the ultimate goal is for population group and gender profiles of higher education graduates to be representative of the national epidemiological profile. This paper describes the demographic patterns of Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) registered physiotherapists from 1938 to 2018.

A retrospective record review of the HPCSA database from 1938 until 2018 was performed. De-identified data were extracted, coded and analyzed for descriptive purposes. Z-tests were used for analysis of proportion differences, along with P-values and 95% confidence intervals for interpretation.

In 2018, 7663 physiotherapists (6350 women and 1313 men) were registered with the HPCSA. Most registered physiotherapists (55.6%) were classified as white, followed by black (17.3%), coloured (10.3%) and Indian (9.8%). A progressive increase was found in the number of new registrations over time (1949-2018) by black (0.00%-24.38% of total new registrations), coloured (0.00%-15.47%) and Indian individuals (0.00%-10.03%), with a statistically significant increase in newly registered black therapists in the decade prior to 2018 (P = .005). Gender transformation appears to be occurring at a slower pace as the profession remains female-dominated (82.9% of registered physiotherapists in 2018).

There has been a steady transformation of the South African physiotherapy graduates composition regarding population categories and gender. However, it is clear that much more than selection criteria is needed to transform the profession in a way that is nationally representative, remain actively accountable for transformation and apt for local context.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13502
School/Department: London Campus
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8541

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