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    Nigerian physiotherapists’ knowledge, current practice and perceptions of their role for promoting physical activity: A cross-sectional survey

    Bello, Bashir, Hartley, Sandra ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2615-8530 and Yeowell, Gillian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3872-9799 (2022) Nigerian physiotherapists’ knowledge, current practice and perceptions of their role for promoting physical activity: A cross-sectional survey. PLoS One, 17 (5). pp. 1-15. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Abstract

    Background: Nigeria has the highest rates of physical inactivity in Africa. As physical inactivity is a leading global risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCD), physical activity promotion is a strategy for their mitigation. Physiotherapists are already ideally situated to undertake this role and can assist in the reversal of NCD. Gaining insight into how physiotherapists in Nigeria perceive their role in relation to physical activity promotion is needed to ensure this undertaking will be effective. This national survey aimed to investigate Nigerian physiotherapists’ knowledge and current practice for promoting physical activity across Nigeria and perceptions of their role related to this. Methods: Following ethical approval, a cross-sectional, online questionnaire survey design was employed to investigate the aim. 330 qualified physiotherapists, working across Nigeria were recruited. Internal consistency of the survey was examined using Cronbach’s alpha. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse closed questions. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse open-ended questions. Chi-square inferential statistic was used to investigate the association between variables with alpha interpreted at a level of 0.05. Results: The internal consistency of the questionnaire survey was good overall (Cronbach Alpha α = 0.71). 330 physiotherapists participated. 99.4% agreed that discussing the benefits of a physically active lifestyle with patients is part of their role. However, over 60% did not feel confident in suggesting specific physical activity programs for their patients. 59.7% were aware of one or more physical activity guideline. However, only 49.1% were incorporating it into their practice. 85.5% felt that developing a physical activity guideline specifically for Nigeria would promote physical activity. 63.3% of respondents did not use any resource in promoting physical activity. An association was found between the physiotherapist’s awareness of physical activity guidelines and male sex (χ2 = 8.95, df = 2, p = 0.01). Conclusion: Whilst most physiotherapists had a positive perception of their role in promoting physical activity, translating this into practice would seem to be challenging. A systems approach to physical activity health promotion is recommended with the need for a commitment by the Nigerian Government to the development and implementation of national guidelines. Incorporating more training in physiotherapy education could foster more confidence in the delivery of these guidelines. Greater use of resources and working with community organisations could help to optimise physical activity uptake in Nigeria.

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