Peer supervision: Co-design of a framework valuable to physiotherapists

Ms Dragana Ceprnja1, Ms Rebecca  Lee1

1Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia

Background: Peer supervision is useful in skill development and may promote a more resilient and capable professional. Although the evidence supports the important role supervision has, little research has been conducted into the evaluation of supervision programs. Previous attempts to implement a peer supervision program in the Physiotherapy Department, Westmead Hospital, have not been successful and sustainable. Therefore, the aims of this project were to explore physiotherapist experience with the existing peer supervision program and evaluate the need for program change.

Method: This study used a mixed methods design. A focus group was conducted with physiotherapy staff in the target group to investigate their previous experiences with a supervision program.  The focus group was digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was used to code the interview.  A survey was then conducted of all staff to investigate what they saw as desirable in a peer supervision program.

Results: Four main themes emerged from the focus group with six participants: challenges with the process of implementing supervision; the value peer supervision offers; the need to make supervision accessible; and sustainability moving forwards. Information from the survey was used to co-design a new supervision framework in response to staff needs and engagement. The new framework consists of tools to promote reflective practice and incorporates a flexible approach.

Discussion: The re-designed peer supervision framework may be a sustainable program to support peer supervision in physiotherapy and other allied health disciplines. The potential benefits include support for individuals to work towards achieving their goals, thus enabling staff to be better able to meet the demands of service delivery in complex and busy clinical settings. Despite a small sample in this project, further research using the new framework may confirm this.


Dragana Ceprnja is a Health Professional Educator in the Physiotherapy Department at Westmead Hospital. Dragana has a strong commitment to improving health care experiences and outcomes in the musculoskeletal population, whilst also supporting and mentoring the physiotherapy workforce.

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