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J Allied Health. 2001 Spring;30(1):35-8.

Physical therapy as primary health care: public perceptions.

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  • 1Department of Physical Therapy, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.


This study investigated the public's knowledge of direct access and the role of physical therapists, and whether the public would consider using a physical therapist for primary care. Persons living in South Florida were selected at random by dialing telephone numbers. Using three-digit telephone number prefixes, four-digit suffixes were generated by rolling dice. When consent was obtained, the respondents' answers were recorded on a self-generated questionnaire. No knowledge of direct access was reported by 67.3% of the sample. Additionally, 57.4% of the sample had never been to a physical therapist. A substantial number of respondents (73.4%) stated that they would go directly to a physical therapist. Thus, the public poorly understands direct access and the role of the physical therapist. The members of the public might use physical therapists as primary care practitioners if they were aware of this option.

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