An exploratory Delphi study on the integration of disabled students into physiotherapy education



The introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) IV (1995) in the UK requires universities to ensure that they do not discriminate against disabled students. The objectives of this study were to achieve consensus on the attributes required for a competent physiotherapist, and to explore implementation of the DDA into physiotherapy education.


An exploratory study was performed using the Delphi technique. Respondents were asked to comment on the skills required to be a physiotherapist, and the implementation of the DDA during the admission process.

Setting and participants

Participation was invited from all physiotherapy admission tutors working on pre-registration physiotherapy courses in England (n=43). Twenty of these consented to be involved, and 13 completed the whole study.


The Delphi study consisted of three questionnaires administered sequentially; the results from one questionnaire forming the basis of the next. On analysis of the third questionnaire, consensus and saturation had been achieved.


The admission tutors showed strong consensus (92%) on the skills necessary to be a physiotherapist, although there was some debate about sensory and physical abilities. Participants were uneasy about the level of support for staff and their knowledge of support systems for disabled students. Respondents also expressed concern over the level of support for disabled students. The possibility of conditional qualification for disabled students was discussed.


Standards set out by the professional bodies could be used to enable disabled students to self-assess their abilities prior to application for courses. Disability support systems within universities need to include physiotherapy tutors.


An exploratory Delphi study on the integration of disabled students into physiotherapy education
Joanne Opie, M. Clare Taylor
Physiotherapy - December 2008 (Vol. 94, Issue 4, Pages 292-299, DOI: 10.1016/