Title

Pain Knowledge, Attitudes and Beliefs of Doctor of Physical Therapy Students: Changes Across the Curriculum and the Role of an Elective Pain Science Course

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2021

Description

Introduction: Entry-level physical therapist education on pain has been described as lacking. Calls have been made to include pain science courses to address this knowledge gap. Methods: Physical therapist students’ pain knowledge and attitudes were measured using the revised Neurophysiology of Pain Questionnaire (rNPQ) and Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale for Physical Therapists (PABS-PT), respectively. Univariate ANOVAs, with post hoc pairwise comparison and effect sizes, were used to measure these aspects over time. Results: Pain knowledge and clinician beliefs were significantly different (p < 0.001) at various curricular timepoints. rNPQ scores increased from 1st to 2nd year (effect size: 1.10), remained similar between years 2 and 3, and improved following the pain course (effect size: 1.25). Biomedical beliefs were similar during years 1, 2 and 3, and declined following the pain course (effect size: 1.56). Conversely, psychosocial belief scores increased from 1st to 2nd year (effect size: 0.82), remained similar between years 2 and 3, and increased following the pain course (effect size: 1.08). Discussion/Conclusions: Physical therapist education, without a dedicated pain science course, may be insufficiently preparing students to treat patients in pain. Educators should consider adopting a dedicated pain science course or substantially bolstering embedded curricular pain content to promote best practice in pain treatment.

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