, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 555-564

Practicing physiotherapy in Danish private practice: an ethical perspective

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Abstract

Despite an increasingly growth of professional guidelines, textbooks and research about ethics in health care, awareness about ethics in Danish physiotherapy private practice seen vague. This article explores how physiotherapists in Danish private practice, from an ethical perspective, perceive to practice physiotherapy. The empirical data consists of interviews with twenty-one physiotherapists. The interviews are analysed from a hermeneutic approach, inspired by Ricoeur’s textual interpretation of distanciation. The analysis follows three phases: naïve reading, structural analysis and comprehensive analysis. Four main themes are constructed: Beneficence as the driving force; Disciplining the patient through the course of physiotherapy; Balancing between being a trustworthy professional and a businessperson; The dream of a code of practice. Private practice physiotherapy is embedded in a structural frame directed by both political and economical conditions that shape the conditions for practicing physiotherapy. It means that beneficence in practice is a balance between the patient, the physiotherapists themselves and the business. Beneficence towards the patient is expressed as an implicit demand. Physiotherapeutic practice is expressed as being an integration of professionalism and personality which implies that the physiotherapists also have to benefit themselves. Private practice seems to be driven by a paternalistic approach towards the patient, where disciplining the patient is a crucial element of practice, in order to optimise profit. Physiotherapists wish for a more beneficent practice in the future by aiming at bridging ‘to be’ and ‘ought to be’.