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International Journal of Rheumatology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 240689, 9 pages
Research Article

Translating Policy into Practice for Community-Based Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Targeting Professional Development Needs among Physiotherapists

1Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin University, Building 609, 5 Parker Place, Bentley, P.O. Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia
2School of Physiotherapy, Curtin University, Building 408, Kent Street, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia
3Department of Health, Government of Western Australia, 189 Royal Street, East Perth, WA 6104, Australia

Received 1 August 2012; Accepted 27 September 2012

Academic Editor: Ruben Burgos-Vargas

Copyright © 2012 Robyn E. Fary et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Contemporary health policy promotes delivery of community-based health services to people with musculoskeletal conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This emphasis requires a skilled workforce to deliver safe, effective care. We aimed to explore physiotherapy workforce readiness to co-manage consumers with RA by determining the RA-specific professional development (PD) needs in relation to work and educational characteristics of physiotherapists in Western Australia (WA). Methods. An e-survey was sent to physiotherapists regarding their confidence in co-managing people with RA and their PD needs. Data including years of clinical experience, current RA clinical caseload, professional qualifications, and primary clinical area of practice were collected. Results. 273 physiotherapists completed the survey. Overall confidence in managing people with RA was low (22.7–58.2%) and need for PD was high (45.1–95.2%). Physiotherapists with greater years of clinical experience, a caseload of consumers with RA, postgraduate qualifications in musculoskeletal physiotherapy, or who worked in the musculoskeletal area were more confident in managing people with RA and less likely to need PD. Online and face-to-face formats were preferred modes of PD delivery. Discussion. To enable community-based RA service delivery to be effectively established, subgroups within the current physiotherapy workforce require upskilling in the evidence-based management of consumers with RA.