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Assessment and management of risk factors for the prevention of lifestyle-related disease: a cross-sectional survey of current activities, barriers and perceived training needs of primary care physiotherapists in the Republic of Ireland

Abstract

Objective

To provide a snapshot of current activities, barriers and perceived training needs for the assessment and management of behavioural risk factors in physiotherapy practice in primary care settings in the Republic of Ireland.

Design

Cross-sectional survey of primary care physiotherapists.

Method

Two hundred and twenty primary care physiotherapists were invited to participate. Each received a questionnaire, consisting of 23 questions, within five key sections. Its main focus was the risk factor management practices of physiotherapists. Descriptive statistics and frequencies were used to analyse the data.

Results

A response rate of 74% (163/220) was achieved. Level of physical activity was the most common risk factor assessed at initial and follow-up visits (78%, 127/163), followed by dietary status (55%, 90/163). Few respondents included smoking status and alcohol consumption in their assessment; however, the majority considered them as risk factors that should be addressed. The main reasons why smoking status and alcohol consumption were not assessed were lack of time, limited knowledge and expertise, not traditionally viewed as the physiotherapist's role, and patient's lack of interest in changing their unhealthy behaviour.

Conclusion

The findings highlight an untapped potential in relation to physiotherapists addressing lifestyle-related risk factors. A number of strategies are required to improve the systematic assessment and management of these risk factors.

Cite this article

Assessment and management of risk factors for the prevention of lifestyle-related disease: a cross-sectional survey of current activities, barriers and perceived training needs of primary care physiotherapists in the Republic of Ireland; Physiotherapy - June 2014 (Vol. 100, Issue 2, Pages 116-122, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2013.10.004)

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