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The Professional Role and Technology Use Among Physical Therapists in Tokyo: A Qualitative Interview Study


  • Johan Larsson
  • David Najafi

Summary, in English

Background: The role of physical therapists are affected by several aspects including the therapeutic relationship, inter-professional relations, workloads, autonomy and their relations to everyday tasks. In particular, the latter of these is a topic of interest in regards to Japanese physical therapists since healthcare in Japan has shown tendencies toward the adoption of new technology. This, the Japanese physical therapists' use of technology, as well as their professional role has presently not been studied.
Purpose: The objective of the study was to describe Tokyo based physical therapists' views on their professional role as well as their use of technology.
Study design: Semi-structured interviews.
Methods: Five male and two female Japanese physical therapists with a mean age of 37 were recruited by a combination of snowball and convenient sampling. All of the informants pursued work in the Tokyo–Yokohama metropolitan area and had a mean professional experience of 12 years. In addition they all had licensure from the JPTA. Seven semistructured interviews with an average length of 55 minutes were conducted on site with the aid of a translator and were later processed by a qualitative manifest content analysis.
Results: Five main categories emerged from the data: interprofessional relations; heavy workloads – overtime and scheduling; usage of technology; opinions on technology; and the therapeutic relationship.
Conclusions: Subdued in a power hierarchy that levitates physicians to the top, practitioners of physical therapy in Tokyo seemingly struggle to claim autonomy and independence over their work. The precise origins of this remain to be thoroughly studied but could possibly be attributed to legislative measures. There were grounds to suggest that physical therapists were overworked and the workload of physical therapists in Tokyo still means overtime for many. Whether or not the physical therapists in Tokyo stand out from the norm in Japan remains unclear. The physical therapy work force in Tokyo appears amply informed of new and novel technology where it concerns their profession. Yet, that quality is contrasted by their somewhat skeptic perspective to it. In our study, most of the therapists expressed doubt towards the efficiency as well as efficacy of technology in treatment.

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Physical therapy specialty
  • physical therapy modalities
  • professional autonomy
  • workload
  • Japan
  • qualitative content analysis


  • Amanda Lundvik Gyllensten