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Abstract

Purpose: The Cape Town region is the largest training locality for physiotherapy training in South Africa. The socio-political changes since the first democratic election in South Africa have impacted on physiotherapy training and clinical practice, although there currently is no evidence-based vision statement for physiotherapy practice in South Africa. This paper reports key findings from interviews held with three prominent physiotherapy educators / administrators in the three Cape Town universities' physiotherapy schools regarding their perspectives on research, clinical teaching and evidence-based practice in physiotherapy. The purpose of this research was to frame a vision for South African physiotherapy, which could underpin profession-wide discussions on equity, accessibility, safety, evidence-base and appropriate-resourced physiotherapy care for all South Africans. Method: A qualitative research design was employed and semi-structured interviews were conducted individually with 3 key participants who each have more than 10 years experience in education at the three physiotherapy tertiary training institutions in Cape Town. The questions sought perspectives on where physiotherapy research education had come from over recent times in South Africa, what contributed to its successes and failures, and what future there was for research and clinical practice in South Africa into the future. Results: The positive points about South African research were that research interest is perceived to be growing for academics and clinicians, postgraduate degrees have been introduced in all Cape Town universities. Negative points were reported included a lack of focus and direction for research and the overwhelming volume of research to be undertaken relative to the changing South African health care scene. Conclusion: The research findings highlight the need for the development of a vision that rises above individual organizations and institutions, and which takes a nation-wide view of future research and its relationship with clinical practice and community need.

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