Users' experiences of physiotherapy treatment in a semi-urban public hospital in Kenya

Joseph K. Gona, Charles R. Newton, Jo-Anne Geere, Sally Hartley

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5 Citations (Scopus)


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 ( 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. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2210
JournalRural and Remote Health
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2013


  • Africa
  • Kenya
  • physiotherapy
  • rural hospital

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