Community health workers’ perception, attitudes and practices with regard to their role and interaction with physiotherapists regarding health promotion and prevention of illness
Introduction The Department of Health has proposed a new health plan to re-engineer primary health care within South Africa which will shift the focus from hospitalisation towards the treatment of conditions at primary care level in the community (RSA DoH 2011:1). Community health workers (CHWs) will be identified and trained to be involved in the promotion of health and the prevention of illness. In order to achieve these health goals it will be important that the contribution of each team member, including Physiotherapists and the CHWs, is clear and known to the rest of the health care team. Aim The main aim of this study was to determine the perceptions, attitudes and practices of CHWs in the Thabo Mofutsanyane District (Free State) with regard to health promotion and prevention of illness, as well as inter-professional referral or cooperation with physiotherapists related to this. Methodology In realising the main aim of this study, after ethical approval (ECUFS NR 174/20134) data were collected by means of a short demographic questionnaire, as well as focus group interviews. Findings The central perceptions, attitudes and practices of CHWs in this study focused on training, support and support systems as well as service delivery and patient care. CHWs expressed a need for improved and continuous structured training opportunities. These training opportunities could further be enhanced by the establishment of good support structures, and improved interdisciplinary teamwork, which would in return improve service delivery, patient care and ultimately health outcomes. Conclusion and Implementation of findings The findings of this study portrayed some limitations within the CHW-context of the piloted re-engineered primary health care system within South Africa. These findings could assist the DoH of the Free State to improve, amongst others the training and support systems for CHWs within the re-engineered primary health care system.
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