Physiotherapists working in orthopaedic foot and ankle clinics: A UK-wide survey investigating role and scope of practice.

Neil Rossi, Andrea Moulson, Anthony Herbland, Mindy Cairns

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationpeer-review


Foot and ankle (F&A) problems are a common musculoskeletal disorder associated with significant health burden. Physiotherapists working in specialist clinics play an important role in the management of these patients.

Aim: to survey current role and scope of practice of United Kingdom based physiotherapists with experience of working in orthopaedic F&A clinics.

Methods: An original online questionnaire was developed using current, relevant literature, expert input from two experienced musculoskeletal research physiotherapists and was reviewed by two orthopaedic F&A consultants. The questionnaire was piloted prior to distribution and recruitment was via the Association of Foot and Ankle Physiotherapists & Allied Health Professionals, the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, and professional networks on Social Media.

Results: 336 people accessed the questionnaire, 26 completed it. 19/26 (73.1%) of respondents currently worked in an orthopaedic F&A clinic, whilst 7/26 (26.9%) had previously. Most responders (25/26) worked within multi-disciplinary team, with only one working alone. Most respondents worked in England (23/26, 88.5%). 20/26 (76.9%) held post-graduate qualifications, with MSc/MA most common (12/26, 46.2%). Nine job titles were reported, with Advance Practice Physiotherapist (APP) the most frequent (9/26, 34.6%). Imaging was requested by 23/26 (88.5%) with x-rays and MRI being the most common (26/26,100%). Only 6/26 respondents (23.1%) had independent prescribing rights. In response to which skills were perceived to be relevant to the role: referrals to physiotherapy (88.5%), educating patients about their diagnosis and assessing follow-up patients (84.6%) were rated as most important, whilst applying/changing PICO and Vac pump dressings (61.5%), undertaking dressings (42.3%), removing stitches/sutures/staples (42.3%) were rated least important.

Conclusion: Results demonstrate the diverse responsibilities undertaken by physiotherapists working in orthopaedic foot and ankle clinics. Findings provide baseline understanding, but due to the small sample size should be interpreted with caution. Further work surveying all relevant professions is planned.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventBritish Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society - ACC, Liverpool
Duration: 8 Mar 202310 Mar 2023


ConferenceBritish Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society


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