2008 Volume 20 Issue 4 Pages 209-216
[Purpose and Methods] A postal survey was conducted to investigate professional role and autonomy of 500 Japanese physiotherapists in conjunction with their implications concerning identity and work as a professional. The questionnaire's content centred on role expectation and role conflict of the physiotherapist. [Results] The respondents considered physiotherapy practice to be specific in its objectives and varied rather than monotonous, but ill defined in its role. Half of the respondents believed that the physician primarily expected them to be an active member of the healthcare team, and one third of them expected to receive their referrals from the physician. The majority of physiotherapists were independent in their treatment methods and regarded their work as being important to others, but felt restricted in their selection of clients; little conflict arose in working relationships with medical practitioners and other healthcare workers, and they experienced a certain degree of autonomy. Only a small number of respondents carried out any systematic self-evaluation of treatment, so little objective feedback was acquired on the outcome of their work, a professional procedure that is essential to treatment quality, a physiotherapist's motivation, job satisfaction, and autonomy. [Conclusion] Physiotherapy still lacks definition as a discipline and requires autonomy if it is to be recognised as a profession.