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From curiosity to appreciating and re-evaluating cultural diversity in physiotherapy. A self-reflective account of experiences and reactions as a Swedish physiotherapy student in India

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As our globalized world entails meetings between health care givers and patients from diverse cultures, cultural factors must be considered in physiotherapy practice. Yet there is insufficient research regarding physiotherapists’ experiences when meeting different cultures. This paper aims to describe my experiences and reactions when meeting a different physiotherapy culture than my own. An autoethnographic study was conducted in India at four different physiotherapy clinical settings during seven weeks. Participant observation and field notes were used to document experiences. The data were analyzed with a qualitative content analysis to find recurring categories and themes. The analysis of field notes resulted in a overreaching category ‘From curiosity to appreciating and re-evaluating cultural diversity in physiotherapy’, divided into three different subcategories and themes: reflecting on hierarchies and the working structure in the context of physiotherapy practice, on the Indian physiotherapy students’ knowledgebase compared with my earlier experiences from Sweden and on the emotions emerging from being a student in the field with minor experience and knowledge in a different context. This reflective process over my experiences has taught me that my own culture is something I can only understand and re-evaluate when I have met a different one, and has helped me to start appreciate and develop further insight of the importance and the complexity of cultural diversity in physiotherapy.
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Keywords: autoethnography; culture; physiotherapy; self-critical reflection; student

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Hovshaga Health Care Centre, Växjö, Sweden 2: Mälardalens University, Västerås, Sweden 3: Department of Health Sciences,Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden

Publication date: 2012-10-01

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