Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 7;18(16):8368. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168368.
This qualitative exploratory study addressed the perspectives of Spanish physical therapists (PTs) regarding (a) the organization of their work during the first wave of the pandemic; (b) their role within the intensive care units (ICUs); (c) management of COVID-19 survivors; (d) potential future challenges identified for the physical therapy profession. Thirty PTs who had worked at a National Public Hospital in Madrid during the first COVID-19 outbreak were recruited by purposeful sampling and snowball techniques. In-depth interviews and researcher field notes were used to collect data. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. An inductive thematic analysis was used to identify emerging themes. After identifying 1110 codes, four themes emerged. Throughout the first wave of the pandemic, the role and work of PTs in hospitals experienced a change. These changes took place at their organizational level, affecting the distribution of PTs in the hospital, and the role of PTs in front-line COVID units such as ICUs, as well as direct management of outpatients at the onset of the pandemic, and after discharge from the ICUs. This situation has led to PTs foreseeing challenges and developing new expectations concerning their role and the physical therapy profession in the future.