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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 71-72

Role of physiotherapist in health literacy

1 Dharma Foundation of India, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Paediatric Physiotherapy, KLE Institute of Physiotherapy, Belagavi, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission27-Jul-2020
Date of Decision10-Aug-2020
Date of Acceptance26-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication04-Jan-2021

Correspondence Address:
Mr Robins Kumar
Dharma Foundation of India, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijptr.ijptr_24_20

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How to cite this article:
Kumar R, Banerjee A, Deshpande V. Role of physiotherapist in health literacy. Indian J Phys Ther Res 2020;2:71-2

How to cite this URL:
Kumar R, Banerjee A, Deshpande V. Role of physiotherapist in health literacy. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 21];2:71-2. Available from: https://www.ijptr.org/text.asp?2020/2/2/71/189942

India has made considerable progress in the past few decades to improve the availability of health-care facilities, but overpopulation, poverty, illiteracy, and lack of health literacy are few among many barriers for utilization of these services.[1] Inadequate health literacy, coupled with the other factors, poses a hazard to our nation's economic stability as patient-care expenditures are on the rise. It is hence perceived as an imperative public health issue and requires urgent attention both in India and internationally.[2] The World Health Organization is focusing on reducing the worldwide influence of exposure to threatened variables, so that we can successfully reduce the number of deaths globally.[3]

Health literacy is recognized as a complex network involving several comprehensive dimensions of interface between the patient capabilities, social, environmental and health-care variables required for exchange of ideas through discussion, updating the health information, decipher tables and graphs, resolutions to take part in research activities, and utilizing therapeutic apparatuses for individual or familial well-being.[4] Health literacy has become a growing concern not only for the health-care individuals involved in maintenance, promotion and protection of health, screening and prevention of diseases, but even for those involved in policy making worldwide as it has a preventive effect in modifying the risk factors.[1]

Physiotherapy with more than six decades of its existence in India has well positioned itself to play an important role in preventing and managing many health conditions. Physiotherapists not only have a responsibility to communicate appropriately and effectively with people from all cultural backgrounds but also act as catalyst between the health professionals and clients.[5] This metamorphosing physiotherapy practice in India is bringing along a greater demand to provide dependable, unambiguous, and error-free health knowledge to all the stakeholders.[4]

Communication is the key element of effective health-care delivery. It is attainable by establishing trust and rapport with clients.[6] It is the duty of the physiotherapist to take into account religious/social conflicts and should consider to overcome language barrier before initiating with health literacy program. It may be timely to (i) utilize clinical guidelines to provide evidence-based care consistently and (ii) enhance the patients' capacity to perceive health information data and avail its benefits.

Through focused group patient education and specific tailor made intervention protocols, physiotherapists can aid patients to overcome and enhance quality of their well-being and utilize the medical restorative care effectively.[2]

  Organizations Promoting Health Literacy in India Top

There are several grass root level organizations, actively working to provide a platform to disseminate knowledge in the community about the preventive measures to reduce noncommunicable diseases and promote good health. Of all the different organizations such as Comprehensive Rural Health Project, Anandwan, Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health, Tathapi Trust, and National Rural Health Mission-Accredited Social Health Activist, the health literacy program of Dharma Foundation of India (DFI) is rooted in the understanding that “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.” DFI handholds with individuals/organizations interested in conducting health literacy programs. It has as of yet collaborated with universities, nongovernmental organizations, government and corporate offices, Residential Welfare Associations, WHO-SEARO, and welfare societies in India. The team of professionals such as doctors, physiotherapists, and dieticians makes a tailor-made protocol of health literacy program based on targeted population such as elders, adults, and children in the community.

  Risk Factor Surveillance For Noncommunicable Diseases in the Target Population Top

Volunteers are selected to be trained (selection and number of volunteers to be trained remain with the local organization). A survey of 30 participants is done to assess common noncommunicable disease (NCD) conditions in the population. The survey tool consists of comprehensive screening instrument with simple questionnaire which is interviewed in 15 min by the volunteers.

  Program Details  Top

  • Based on the results of the pilot study done in 30 participants, common NCD condition prevalent in the targeted community is identified. A health literacy program relevant to the condition is chosen
  • Eligible participants undergo a 10 h training program, scheduled in a period of 2 days. The topics covered include about the disease, signs and symptoms, prevention and lifestyle modification through exercises, and diet which are modifiable risk factors
  • Leaflets are distributed to participants
  • Volunteers are provided with refresher training periodically. Volunteers take small group workshops with other members of the organization, which is within scope of their community
  • Health literacy status of community is evaluated, superintended, and ameliorated frequently.

  Conclusion Top

Health literacy is subordinate on discrete and systemic variables:

  1. Exchange of information and aptitudes of nonprofessional and experts
  2. Knowledge of health topics in laypersons and expert
  3. Ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society.
  4. Demand and supply of the health-care and public health systems
  5. Situational demands.

Health literacy alters and influences people's ability to:

  1. Provide personal health history information to the experts
  2. Indulge in preventive care and management for various chronic diseases
  3. Understand the ill effects of jeopardizing oneself to exposure to danger.

In expansion to the fundamental knowledge and proficiency abilities, health literacy gives information about healthfulness. Individuals with restricted health education require regular consciousness or else they would have deception about their body as well as the nature and causes of illness. In absence of this acquaintance gained through health education, understanding the relationship between lifestyle elements like diet, exercise, etc., and its effects on various health outcomes is very difficult to understand. Health literacy implies cognitive and social abilities of an individual to decide and utilize health information to preserve and promote health. People need to understand and use health information to choose a healthy lifestyle or to take advantage of preventive measures. Physiotherapist should focus to promote best practice to support patients to improve their health literacy skills to navigate the health system, engage in preventive activities, enhance self-management, and change risky lifestyle behaviors.

  References Top

Balarajan Y, Selvaraj S, Subramanian SV. Health care and equity in India. Lancet 2011;377:505-15.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sharma M. Health education in India: A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. Int Electron J Health Educ 2005;8:80-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
WHO. Global Health Risks: Mortality and Burden of Disease Attributable to Selected Major Risks. Geneva: WHO; 2009.  Back to cited text no. 3
Briggs AM, Jordan JE. The importance of health literacy in physiotherapy practice. J Physiother 2010;56:149-51.  Back to cited text no. 4
Shimpi A, Writer H, Shyam A, Dabadghav R. Role of physiotherapy in India – A cross-sectional survey to study the awareness and perspective among referring doctors. J Med Thesis 2014;2:18-22.  Back to cited text no. 5
Alford V, Remedios L, Ewen S, Webb G. Communication in indigenous healthcare: Extending the discourse into the physiotherapy domain. J Physiother 2014;60:63-5.  Back to cited text no. 6


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