The oncology networking session run by Jackie Drouin at the 2011 WCPT Congress.
The oncology networking session run by Jackie Drouin at the 2011 WCPT Congress.

Special interest groups aspire to subgroup status

Physical therapists who specialise in occupational health and cancer care are working to establish formal international groups – with the ultimate aim of becoming WCPT subgroups. 

The International Federation of Physical Therapists working in Occupational Health and Ergonomics has its roots in the 2011 WCPT Congress in Amsterdam, where an informal networking session attracted around 60 physical therapists. Those at the meeting broke into groups to discuss topics, and one group chose to discuss forming a WCPT subgroup. “The group was very keen to see a formal group established, so we are actively working towards this,” says Rose Boucaut, a senior physiotherapy lecturer at the University of South Australia, who has been coordinating efforts to develop the group.

She has discovered that there was a similar meeting of what were then known as “industrial physical therapists” at the 1959 WCPT Congress in Paris. “Although 25 interested physical therapists met, the group failed to materialise,” says Rose Boucaut. “Our aim is to get the group formally accepted as a subgroup at the next WCPT General Meeting in Singapore in 2015.”

One of the major challenges, she says, is that key contacts tend to move on and communication with representatives in some countries breaks down. “That’s why I’m very keen that one person from each country needs to let me know who is currently taking the lead in that country.” An online form has been set up to collect this information at  This form will close on 29 February.

The group aims to connect physical therapists in a variety of occupational-health-related activities throughout the world: workplace health promotion, ergonomics, injury prevention, injury management and occupational health research and education.

Meanwhile an oncology and palliative care specialist group is also being formed, again after meetings during the WCPT Congress in Vancouver and Amsterdam. Physical therapists from 12 countries in three out of WCPT’s five regions have indicated they are interested in helping to develop an international oncology and palliative care organisation for physical therapists, with the aim of getting it recognised as a WCPT subgroup.  

“The next step is for the core team members to approach their national professional organisations and develop an oncology and palliative care special interest group, if they haven’t already got one,” says Jackie Drouin, a physical therapy professor from Oakland University in the United States, who is coordinating efforts. “The special interest groups can then join the international oncology and palliative care group.”

Jackie Drouin is working on the organisation’s draft articles of association, using a template provided by WCPT.  Once drafted, this will be sent out for consultation.

“The response to the group has been overwhelmingly positive,” she says. “This will be such a great opportunity to advance clinical practice, education, research, management and organisation in oncology and palliative care practice.”