Report on Core Competencies of Physiotherapists in Rehabilitation Services for Refugees and Migrants

The Physiotherapy and Refugees Education Project (PREP), an Erasmus+  funded project, addresses the mismatch between the competencies of physiotherapists (PTs) and the complex rehabilitation needs of a growing population of refugees and migrants in Europe. PREP is a collaboration between seven educational and health institutions in six countries.

This report focuses on the first phase in the project implementation identification and its first intellectual output: Consensus on Core Competencies of Physiotherapists in Rehabilitation Services for Refugees and Migrants. The PREP team engaged in a systematic implementation of the following three activities:

  1. Scoping review
  2. Key informant interviews
  3. Expert panel using nominal group technique

Findings from the scoping review, emerging from the key informant interviews, and expert panel consensus were used to identify a set of competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) that fall into four interrelated domains:individual, relational, structural and health domain (Figure 1).

Knowledge, skills and attitudes that are included in the individual domain are: advanced clinical reasoning skills as they relate to refugee health, trauma informed care and evidence based pain management. Relational domain includes ability of physiotherapists to be culturally responsive, to communicate skillfully including communication through an interpreter, to create therapeutic space and relationship of trust. Structural domain encompasses competencies related to knowledge of the local system, and local resources and skill to mobilize them. It also includes understanding of professional roles and identity of physiotherapist within the system, team work and relationship with other professionals. Health domain includes knowledge of determinants of health, global health, human rights and impact of migration on health of refugees.

These findings will be used to inform curriculum development for an online continuing education course for physiotherapists. Download the full text of this report here.