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Original Research

Self-efficacy beliefs and confidence of rural physiotherapists to undertake specialist paediatric caseloads: a paediatric example

Submitted: 11 January 2010
Revised: 21 July 2010
Published: 1 November 2010

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Author(s) : Minisini M, Sheppard LA, Jones A.

Citation: Minisini M, Sheppard LA, Jones A.  Self-efficacy beliefs and confidence of rural physiotherapists to undertake specialist paediatric caseloads: a paediatric example. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2010; 10: 1426. Available: (Accessed 23 October 2017)


Introduction:  Rural physiotherapists are faced with unique challenges, one of which is the necessity to extend their skills and knowledge to areas that would be covered by a specialist physiotherapist in an urban setting. The effects of this on the physiotherapist’s confidence and self-belief has not been studied. The present study aimed to measure the self-efficacy and confidence of rural physiotherapists who undertake service delivery in the specialist field of paediatrics.
Method:  A descriptive, cross-sectional design survey was made of rural and remote physiotherapists working in north-west Queensland, Australia. Responses were coded and analysed using descriptive statistics and cross tabs to compare existing relationships among variables.
Results:  Twenty-three (of 56) completed surveys were returned (41% response rate). Rural and remote physiotherapist’s are likely to be sole practitioners or part of a small group of clinicians, working full time in a hospital or private practice. These physiotherapists reported less peer support than urban physiotherapists and were required to treat multiple cases across specialist areas. Physiotherapists working in such a demanding, unsupported environment have a low belief in their abilities and poor coping strategies, causing them to develop low self-efficacy.
Conclusion:  Rural physiotherapists having low self-efficacy can mean they have low levels of confidence in their ability to practise, and hold the belief that they lack the skills and attributes to practice. This could mean a conflict with professional conduct and ethical standards. Early identification of low self-efficacy gives time to review, develop and sustain strategies to help address the problems faced by the rural physiotherapist workforce, and to re-develop this workforce into one that is more stable and supportive.

Key words:  paediatrics, physical therapy, physiotherapy, self-efficacy.

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