Evaluation of Physical Therapy Services at the Governmental Hospitals – Gaza Governorates

Hani Hamdi Matar
هاني حمدي عبد مطر
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Al-Quds University
In the Gaza Strip, the demand for physical therapy services is increasing due to the increasing number of injuries and disabilities as a result of frequent Israeli war and attacks on Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health provides in-patient and out-patient physical therapy services. The study aimed to evaluate the physical therapy services delivered to patients at governmental hospitals in the Gaza Strip in order to improve these services, thus improving well-being and health outcomes. The design of this study is a mixed methods study; it involves both quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data were collected from beneficiaries who utilized the physical therapy services in both out-patient and in-patient departments within the study sittings. In total, 350 patients participated in the quantitative study (198 out-patient cases and 152 in-patient cases), with 97.2% response rate. The qualitative data were collected through six focus group discussions; three of them with beneficiaries of physical therapy services and the other with physical therapy providers. Analysis of quantitative data were conducted using SPSS program, the analysis involved different types of statistical tests. For qualitative data, an open coding thematic analysis method was used. Most of the participants (76.6%) have received the services they were supposed to. About 84% of participants indicated that these services met their health needs. From beneficiaries' perspectives, the overall mean percentage was 79.57% for accessibility, affordability, and availability of the physical therapy services. For accessibility of information, the mean percentage was 78.15%. The mean percentage for the skills and competency of the physical therapy providers was 74%, while it was 72.4% for the patient's participation in preparing treatment plan. There was good interaction and communication between patients and the physical therapy providers; this was reflected by the mean a percentage of 82.8%. The vast majority of the participants indicated that the therapist was respectful; this was manifested with the mean percentage of 88.4%. The findings of the study have showed significant relationship between participants' gender and employment status with physical therapy services utilization (P=0.005 and P=0.017) respectively, but did not show significant relationship between beneficiaries' age groups and level of education with physical therapy services utilization. The study findings reflected that the overall satisfaction of the provided physical therapy services was 79.65%. There is a need to expand the working shift of the physical therapy department to cover evening shift. Finally, currently, physical therapy departments do not have any protocols, thus, there is a need to develop clear guidelines and protocols of physical therapy treatment. There is a need to increase awareness about importance of physical therapy services and enhance the role of physical therapy management in supporting physical therapist. Finally, ministry of health should provide physical therapy out-patients services within hospitals in Khan Younis and Middle zone.