Core competencies for physiotherapists working with refugees: A scoping review

Huge thanks for Emer McGowan and how hard she has worked on this publication.

For those of you that are new to PREP it stands for Physiotherapy and Refugee Education Project. The project is a partnership between a number of academic organisations which of course includes Physiopedia. The overall aim of PREP is to create a free online course for physiotherapists to enable them to meet the needs of the refugees who find themselves in their new country.

The project is in its second year and the scoping review was the first big milestone and exciting news! The scoping review for the core competencies for physiotherapiests working with refugees has been published in the journal Physiotherapy.  The objective of the review was to summaries the existing knowledge base that can inform the development of a core competency profile for physiotherapists to support refugees from a rehab perspective.

The analysis of the scoping review identified 3 themes and 5 sub-themes:

  1. Refugee Health
    1. Determinants of health
    2. Physical health
  2. Cultural Competence
    1. Cultural sensitivity
  3. Refugees and the Healthcare system

These themes will now go on to be used to direct the creation of a competency framework, however it is important to conisder that further research may be needed to narrow the focus of these themes further. This would allow the creation of competencies necessary to provide the highest quality care for this population.

Why PReP is Important

The demography of Europe is changing. There is a significant migration of refugees fleeing violence and persecution who make the tortuous journey towards Europe. While many arrive through Greece and along the Mediterranean coast, the goal of the displaced populations is not to remain there. Most make their way to Scandinavia seeking a better life, employment, education and acceptance.

Due to the tortuous conditions in their home country as well as the toll of the journey across Europe, the refugees are likely to be suffer from poor overall health. They are also susceptible to picking up diseases and illnesses along the way during their battle to safety.

From a rehabilitation and health perspective this population struggle to have their health needs met in their new countries, particularly from a physiotherapy perspective. As a profession we know very little about the knowledge, skills and competencies that we need to enable our colleagues around the continent to help those who who really need us.

Follow the PREP on Twitter and on the PREP website.