Countries that produced most respondents for the three WCPT polls

Recognition of the profession is a global concern for physical therapists

Three polls conducted by WCPT have revealed that an overwhelming concern physical therapists globally is the need for their profession's value to be better recognised. 

The results are in for the first three polls conducted as part of the WCPT Look Forward Together consultation, asking about opportunities and challenges for the profession and areas of work that WCPT might prioritise. Nearly 3,000 physical therapists and representatives of WCPT member organisations around the world responded to the three questionnaires.

Although the area of direct access featured strongly as an opportunity for the profession, lack of esteem and autonomy for the profession, and the need to improve understanding, were the most prominent themes.

WCPT has further explored these issues and others further in a more detailed survey of member organisations, subgroups and individual physical therapists. The results of all the polls and surveys are informing the WCPT Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2021, which is currently being compiled by the WCPT Executive Board.

The first poll asked about the biggest opportunities for the profession, and the five top answers were:

1. direct access/self-referral 
2. research demonstrating the benefits of PT across the lifespan
3. increasing recognition of the value of PT for ageing populations
4. increased emphasis on interprofessional collaborative practice
5. the expanding role of PT in the community.

In the second poll, about the main challenges facing the profession, the main concerns emerging were lack of status and recognition of the profession. The top five challenges were: 

1. pay and working conditions 
2. profession not held in high esteem by others 
3. the need to improve understanding about the value of physical therapy
4. lack of professional autonomy
5. encroachment on the role of PTs by others.

The third poll asked physical therapists which areas they would most like to see as WCPT work streams. The top five responses were:

1. promoting the valuable contribution of PT across the lifespan in different service settings
2. direct access/self-referral
3. working with and influencing other professionals and decision makers
4. professional autonomy
5. pay and working conditions
Read about the findings of the detailed survey that WCPT also conducted as part of its consultation in this separate news story