Advanced practice in physiotherapy: a global survey

Andrews K. Tawiah, François Desmeules, Laura Finucane, Jeremy Lewis, Marguerite Wieler, Emma Stokes, Linda J. Woodhouse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Advanced practice in physiotherapy represents a development in the practice of physiotherapy and has developed in different ways around the world. There is growing evidence to support advanced physiotherapy practice. In May 2019, the member organisations adopted the first World Physiotherapy policy on advanced practice in physiotherapy. However, to date, there is no evidence on the nature and extent of this practice globally. Objectives To investigate the extent to which advanced practice is present within the global physiotherapy community, to document the titles used, to describe the pathway to become an advanced physiotherapy practitioner and to investigate the barriers and facilitators to the development of the roles. Design An online cross-sectional survey was sent to the various national associations of the World Physiotherapy. Participants Participants were the member organisations of World Physiotherapy. Instrument The survey comprised 14 questions. The questions were developed based on a review of the evidence around advanced practice and in-depth discussions with the expert group set up by World Physiotherapy. Results A total of 82/112 MOs responded to the survey representing a 73% response rate. Fourteen respondents (14/82, 17%) indicated that they had formal roles in their country/territory. The terms specialist and advanced physiotherapy practitioner were often used interchangeably and were a source of confusion. Seventy-nine (11/14, 79%) percent stated that most advanced physiotherapy practitioners have a combination of clinical practice and a Master’s or Doctoral degree. The major facilitators to the development and sustainability of the role were the research evidence, advocacy by the professional organisation, the need to reduce cost and the support received by the advanced physiotherapy practitioners from their employers. Conclusion The outcomes of this study provide a clearer understanding of how member organisations of World Physiotherapy defined advanced practice in physiotherapy and what titles are used. It provides insights into the barriers and facilitators to the development of advanced practice in physiotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Advanced practice
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Physiotherapy
  • Professional practice


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