Lund M.1,2, Biguet G.3, Lundberg M.3
1Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Orthopaedics, Gothemburg, Sweden, 2The University of Gothemburg, Health and Rehabilitation, Gothemburg, Sweden, 3Karolinska Institutet, Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Huddinge, Sweden

Background: Body awareness is viewed as health promoting, since humans, through awareness of the body, can gain knowledge of how their body works and make bodily sensations understandable. However, body awareness is a complex phenomenon that lacks a univocal definition. The concept is today used in all physiotherapeutic areas of practice but the definitions are primly developed in a psychiatric context.
Accordingly investigating similarities and differences in conceptions amongst physiotherapists is important, both to contribute to theory development of physiotherapy and to clinical practice.

Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to explore and describe physiotherapists' qualitatively different conceptions of the phenomenon body awareness and how these conceptions are structurally related to each other.

Methods: Face-to-face in-depth interviews were performed with fifteen physiotherapists, eleven women and four men. Their working experience ranged from six months to forty years and they came from different fields within physiotherapy. The physiotherapists were strategically selected by representatives from all sixteen subgroups of the Swedish Association of Physiotherapists, Fysioterapeuterna. The recommendations were based on six criterions on variation. The interviews were analyzed by a phenomenographic research approach. A pattern of categories of descriptions was constructed based on the interviewed physiotherapists’ conceptions of the phenomenon body awareness.

Results: Four qualitatively different categories of descriptions were identified. Body awareness; as separated from physiotherapy, as a part of physiotherapy, as the core of physiotherapy and reaching through and beyond the field of physiotherapy. The key similarities and differences between the categories came clear by clarifying two aspects related to body awareness. Namely, “what” aspects of the body (e.g. kinds of bodily sensations) one is considered to be aware of and “in what way” (e.g. cognitive, experience based) one is considered to be aware in one one’s body. The outcome space was interpreted as hierarchical, in the sense that the categories of description house a varying depth, of understanding of the phenomenon of body awareness, and a varying integration, of the phenomenon in to the body of physiotherapeutic knowledge.

Conclusion(s): The result of the present study show four qualitatively different descriptions of body awareness, varying in depth and integration in to the body of physiotherapeutic knowledge.

Implications: These results may contribute to the education of new physiotherapists by helping teachers clarify the complexity of the phenomenon. Further, they may help physiotherapists understand each other when discussing the phenomenon both in research and in physiotherapy practice.

Funding acknowledgements: Renée Eanders help foundation
The Physiotherapists in Mental Health a subgroup of The Swedish Association of Physiotherapists

Topic: Education

Ethics approval: Ethics approval was not required according to the regulations of Swedish Law

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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