An evaluation of pre-qualification respiratory physiotherapy curricula on the island of Ireland

Brona Fullen, Orla O’ Shea, Brenda O’ Neill, Fidelma Moran, Roisin Cahalan, Deirdre Phelan, Ciara Hanrahan, Julie Broderick

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BACKGROUND: Respiratory physiotherapy is a core area of practice, but little is known about pre-qualification physiotherapy curricula across institutions. The purpose of this study was to identify and categorise the pre-qualification content of respiratory physiotherapy curricula across the island of Ireland. METHODS: This cross-sectional survey was conducted remotely and eight respiratory module coordinators/teaching leads participated. Respiratory physiotherapy curricular topics and assessment details from each participating institution were documented. Curricular topics were then grouped and categorised into discrete broader curricular topic areas by agreement. A representative from each higher education institution rated the curricular topic from their programme as ‘foundation’, ‘core’, ‘not essential but desirable’ or ‘broadly relevant’. Assessment strategies for each programme were documented. RESULTS: From 246 individual topics, seven broad category areas were generated which were operationally defined and divided into 41 content topics. Of the content topics 18 out of 41 (44%) topics were unanimously rated as core to the respiratory module by each participating programme. A diverse range of assessment strategies were employed across programmes with all including written and practical components. CONCLUSION: Between programmes and institutions, there was a reasonably high degree of overlap of the respiratory physiotherapy topic areas which are delivered within or outside of core respiratory modules. Content appears to be broadly standardised and appears to support the preparedness of graduates for practice in this area. The identification of ‘core’ respiratory topics in this study may be useful for the design of new respiratory physiotherapy modules or ongoing curricular review.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-15
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiotherapy Practice and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 18 Jun 2022

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  • Occupational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Respiratory physiotherapy
  • education
  • curriculum


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