Sexual professional boundaries perceived by undergraduate and graduate physiotherapists: A cross sectional survey

Andrew Soundy, Brendon Stubbs, Sue Jenkins, Ian Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To compare self-reported experiences of and attitudes towards sexual professional boundaries (SPB) in a cohort of undergraduate and graduate physiotherapists domiciled in the UK and Australia. DESIGN: A cross sectional survey design was utilised to capture data from two UK cohorts. SETTING: Data was collected from a University in the Midlands region of England. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty one final year undergraduate students and 17 graduate students took part in this study. This was compared to published data from Australian undergraduates (n=67) and Australian graduates (n=939). OUTCOME MEASURES: A questionnaire consisting of 3 distinct sections was distributed. Section 1 established demographic information, section 2 considered personal experience of the SPB, and section 3 considered attitudes to 6 vignettes describing a variety of scenarios examining the SPB. RESULTS: Graduate students in both cohorts demonstrated a greater awareness of professionals crossing the SPB. Self reported sexual attraction towards a patient was significantly higher in graduate students (50%) compared to undergraduates (9%). Six percent and 4% of UK and Australian graduates reporting they had dated a patient. However, a much higher percentage (53% and 17% respectively) reported knowing a colleague who had dated a patient. A significant difference between graduates and undergraduate in their attitudes towards selected vignettes describing SPB crossings was also identified. CONCLUSIONS: The current results provide evidence of inappropriate sexual behaviour occurring within the UK. Both graduates and undergraduates require training pertinent to the topic of SPB. Further research is required to enhance our understanding of this topic area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-304
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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Copyright © 2012 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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