The use of information and communication technology by South African physiotherapy students

20 Jan 2010

The global shift toward the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in health education and practice has been shown to enhance both the educational opportunities and the support provided to students and healthcare professionals. This study aimed to investigate the use of ICT by South African physiotherapy students and what their experiences and perceptions were regarding their use of ICT as part of their studies. The study design was a cross-sectional, descriptive survey using a self-administered questionnaire. The survey population included all of the undergraduate physiotherapy students from six of the eight universities offering the physiotherapy degree in South A frica (N=1105). The sample size consisted of 529 students from the survey population who completed and returned questionnaires, indicating a response rate of 48%. The results of the study showed that the use of ICT by South African physiotherapy students varied according to task, racial group and university attended. Furthermore, the reported use of ICT for communication, research and continuing professional development was low. In conclusion, this study indicates that with a move toward the use of ICT to enhance health education and practice in South A frica, certain groups of physiotherapy students may be at a disadvantage if required to make use of ICT as a means of improving communication, enhancing education, participating in lifelong learning opportunities and accessing support.