Qualitative research in physiotherapy: a systematic mapping review of 20 years literature from sub-Saharan Africa

Michael E. Kalu*, Austine Ebuka, Ebuka Anieto, Olisa Okeke, Michael Ibekaku, Ukachukwu Abaraogu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study aim: To summarize the current state and quality of qualitative research conducted by physiotherapists in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Methods: We systematically searched multiple databases from 2000 till December 2020 and included peer-reviewed qualitative studies conducted by physiotherapists in SSA countries. Two reviewers independently screened citations, extracted data, and assessed the quality of the included studies using the 45-items checklist by Lundgren et al. (2012). Conventional content analysis was employed to create physiotherapy subject areas from the included studies.
Results: We included 114 studies, a majority of 84 (74%) conducted in South Africa. Included studies were categorized into five subject areas: sports (n=2), disability (n=16), professional practice (n=24), education and training (n=36) and care provision (n=36). We rated 74 (65%), 29 (25%), and 11 (10%) of the included research as low reporting quality, moderate-and high reporting quality, respectively. There was a significant lack of reporting on researchers' team characteristics, reflexivity and member checking.
Conclusion: We conclude that the reporting of published qualitative studies in SSA show variable quality, albeit mostly low, focused mainly on care provision, education and training. Physiotherapy-researchers are encouraged to report reflexive practice and member checking when conducting qualitative research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Dec 2021


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