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'Isn't it all Whites?' Ethnic diversity and the physiotherapy profession

Yeowell, G (2013) 'Isn't it all Whites?' Ethnic diversity and the physiotherapy profession. Physiotherapy, 99 (4). pp. 341-346. ISSN 0031-9406

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Abstract

Aim: To explore physiotherapists' perceptions, views and experiences of ethnic diversity in relation to the physiotherapy profession. Design: Qualitative research study, drawing on ethnographic traditions and including ethnographic interviews. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and the data were analysed using thematic analysis. Several verification procedures were incorporated into the design to ensure quality. Setting: Venues chosen by the participants in North West England. Participants: A purposive sample of 22 physiotherapists (five students, seven clinicians and 10 academics) with a range of ethnicities. Findings: Most participants' experiences and perceptions were of a lack of ethnic diversity within the profession. Further findings related to the impact of this included: the perception that physiotherapy is a White profession; some Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) physiotherapists felt 'out of place' on occasions; and failure to meet patients' needs. The potential benefits of increased ethnic diversity and the possible risks of valuing BME staff solely in terms of their ethnicity were also illuminated by the findings. Conclusions: This study of the perceptions and experiences of physiotherapists identified a lack of ethnic diversity within the profession. It is argued that a lack of ethnic diversity may result in a failure to meet patients' needs. A workforce that is reflective of the population it serves can have greater cultural knowledge, and is more likely to understand and respond to patients' needs. © 2013 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

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