Perceptions about the implementation of physiotherapist prescribing in Australia: a national survey of Australian physiotherapists

Timothy David Noblet, John F Marriott, Taryn Jones, Catherine Dean, Alison B Rushton

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OBJECTIVES: To explore: (1) the views of Australian physiotherapists regarding potential implementation of non-medical prescribing in Australia, (2) how the geographical location and health sector in which a clinician works may influence their perceptions and (3) the perceptions of Australian physiotherapists about how physiotherapist prescribing might impact the care that the profession can provide.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional descriptive survey using open and closed questions.

SETTING: Participants completed an online questionnaire.

PARTICIPANTS: 883 Australian Health Professionals Registration Authority (AHPRA)-registered physiotherapists, working across all states and territories.

OUTCOME MEASURES: An online questionnaire was developed by a panel of subject experts and pretested (n=10) for internal consistency. A hyperlink to the questionnaire was emailed to all members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. A reminder email was sent 4 weeks later. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively, with use of absolute risk reductions (ARRs) and 95% CIs to determine the likelihood that health sector or geographical location were associated with specific views. Thematic analysis enabled synthesis of the qualitative data.

RESULTS: 79.0% participants felt that physiotherapist prescribing should be introduced in Australia, with 71.2% wanting to train as prescribers. Clinical governance, risk management, regulation of clinicians and the development of an education framework were identified as priorities for implementation. Participants working in the private sector were significantly more likely to train as prescribers than those in the public sector (ARR 9.9%; 95% CI 3.5 to 16.4) or educational/research institutions (ARR 23.3%; 95% CI 12.8 to 33.8), with city dwellers significantly more likely to train compared with physiotherapists in remote regions (ARR 19.8%; 95% CI 0.8 to 39.2). Physiotherapist prescribing was predicted to improve efficiency of healthcare delivery, access to medicines and reductions in healthcare costs.

CONCLUSIONS: AHPRA-registered physiotherapists perceive that the introduction of autonomous physiotherapist prescribing would be beneficial for the Australian population and should be introduced. Decision makers should consider the results of this survey in conjunction with cost-benefit and risk analysis when planning the introduction of physiotherapist prescribing.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere024991
JournalBMJ open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • Australia
  • non-medical prescribing
  • perceptions
  • physiotherapy
  • questionnaire
  • survey
  • views


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