World Physiotherapy 2020 Membership Census

World Physiotherapy Press release

11 January 2021

Annual membership census reveals global state of the physiotherapy profession

Responses to the latest World Physiotherapy annual membership census reveal the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on physiotherapy services globally.

World Physiotherapy publishes data from its member organisations every year on a range of issues, including professional regulation, practice, education, and the number of employed physiotherapists. This data provides a comprehensive and valuable global profile of the profession.

In 2020, the annual membership census also included questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted physiotherapy practice and the governance of World Physiotherapy’s member organisations.

The annual membership census date was 30 June 2020.

The most recent data is based on the census completed by 111 of World Physiotherapy’s 122 member organisations in mid-2020. The high response rate, 91%, demonstrates strong engagement between World Physiotherapy and its member organisations and data reliability. The data gives a global snapshot of the physiotherapy profession across the world, showing variations in the density of physiotherapists in different countries and between World Physiotherapy regions. Highlights of the 2020 census include:

  • 57% of respondents said membership of their organisation had increased
  • 86% of respondents said COVID-19 had impacted on physiotherapy practice in their country/territory, most of them reported disruption between March and June 2020
  • 63% of respondents said physiotherapists in their country/territory reported challenges in accessing personal protective equipment during March and June 2020
  • 27% of respondents said there was full direct access in their country/territory and people could refer themselves to a physiotherapist without a referral, to public health systems and to private practice
  • globally, 63% of physiotherapists are women – but only 14% of countries/territories globally has fewer women than men practicing as physiotherapists
  • in 75% of countries/territories, physiotherapists can provide telehealth.

World Physiotherapy chief executive officer Jonathon Kruger said: “The responses to the surveys from our member organisations are critical to the capacity of World Physiotherapy to provide ongoing support. This year the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on our entire community. The data that has been provided is being further analysed and we will be reporting separately on this later this year”.

Read the press release

Page updated January 2021