n South African Journal of Physiotherapy - The perceived barriers and facilitators in completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy - original research

Volume 74 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0379-6175
  • E-ISSN: 2410-8219



Background: Participating in postgraduate study is daunting and as yet there is a dearth of literature on what students’ experiences are when obtaining their Master’s degree in Physiotherapy. 

Objectives: The aim of this study was to gain insight into the perceived barriers and facilitators in completing a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy. 

Method: Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 physiotherapists who had completed a Master’s degree in Physiotherapy from a university in South Africa, representative of coursework and dissertation Master’s degrees, completed within the stipulated time period as well as taking longer to complete the degree. The topics covered a range of speciality areas. The interviews were transcribed, sent for member checking and analysed thematically. 

Results: Within 10 interviews data saturation was reached. Two themes were identified: research environment and support, both of which were seen as either a facilitator or a barrier, depending on the participant. The theme of research environment was divided into categories of workplace and data collection. The second theme, support, was also seen as either a barrier or a facilitator. This theme encapsulated the categories of supervisor support, workplace support and a personal support network. 

Conclusion: The research environment and support are two major factors that can influence the experience of obtaining a master’s degree in physiotherapy, both positively and negatively. 

Clinical implications: With increasing numbers of physiotherapists obtaining postgraduate degrees, universities need to facilitate the process of obtaining the degree, which will ensure more physiotherapists with postgraduate degrees, thereby strengthening the profession.

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