Factors influencing student choice of a degree in physiotherapy: a population-based study in Catalonia (Spain)
Bezerra de Souza, Dyego L.
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Background: In other healthcare professions, there has been extensive research into students' motivation, but studies aiming to determine what leads individuals to choose a degree in physiotherapy are scarce. This research study had three main objectives: to obtain a sociodemographic profile of first-year physiotherapy students in Catalonia; to determine the factors that lead individuals to choose a degree in physiotherapy; and to determine potential differences, according to gender and country of origin. Methods: This is an observational, cross-sectional, multicentre study. Data were collected by means of a self-administered, ad-hoc questionnaire, consisting of 15 Likert scale questions, options ranging from "not influencing at all -1-" to "extremely influencing -5-". Ten out of the twelve universities in Catalonia (Spain) that offer a degree in physiotherapy participated in this study. The sample consisted of 941 first-year physiotherapy students (55.2% men; mean age 20.1, SD: 3.4). Results: The most determinant factors leading individuals to pursue a degree in physiotherapy were: helping others (95.6%); the relationship between physiotherapy and sports (79%); physiotherapy involving manual work (76.4%); and it being perceived as providing multiple job opportunities (75.9%). Male and French students were attracted due to its relation to sports (MD = 0.369, p < 0.001 and MD = 0.130, p < 0.027), perception of it being an easy degree (MD = 0.148, p < 0.001 and MD = 0.091, p < 0.037), admiration for a known physiotherapist (MD = 0.223, p = 0.006 and MD = 0.265, p = 0.001), employability (MD = 0.297, p < 0.001 and MD = 0.706, p < 0.001), good income (MD = 0.190, p = 0.002 and MD = 0.609, p < 0.001) and social recognition (MD = 0.164, p = 0.011 and MD = 0.286, p < 0.001). Helping others (MD = -0.149, p < 0.001) and interest in the sciences (MD = -0.164, p = 0.030) were more determinant for female students. Male students were more guided by recommendation (MD = 0.234, p = 0.001) and to complement previous studies (MD = 0.237, p = 0.016). French students tended to present more interest in the selection of physiotherapy as a wish since childhood (MD = 0.595, p < 0.001), due to its multiple job opportunities (MD = 0.427, p < 0.001) and because of manual work, and did not choose it to complement previous studies (MD = -1.122, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The desire to help and care for others, the relation to sports, and involving manual work are the predominant factors that lead students to pursue a degree in physiotherapy. Female students favour helping others and science, whereas male students favour its relation to sports, complementing studies, social factors (admiration, recommendation, friendship) and socioeconomic determinants such as employability, good income or social recognition. When compared to Spanish students, French students were more motivated by its connection to sports, social and socioeconomic factors and some vocational determinants such as being a wish since childhood and interest in a manual profession.
Is part ofPeerJ, 2021, vol. 9, e10991, p. 1-13
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