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The effect of a physiotherapy education compared with a non-healthcare education on the attitudes and beliefs of students towards functioning in individuals with back pain: An observational, cross-sectional study

Abstract

Objectives

To investigate the difference in attitudes: (1) between first and fourth year physiotherapy students towards functioning in individuals with back pain; and (2) between physiotherapy students and non-healthcare students towards functioning in individuals with back pain.

Design

Observational, cross-sectional study.

Setting

Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK.

Participants

First year physiotherapy (n=61) and non-healthcare students (n=61), and fourth year physiotherapy (n=62) and non-healthcare students (n=62).

Main outcomes

All participants completed the Health Care Providers’ Pain and Impairment Relationship Scale (range 15 to 105). This questionnaire measures attitudes towards functioning in individuals with back pain.

Results

Fourth year physiotherapy students had more positive attitudes towards functioning in individuals with back pain than first year physiotherapy students [57.4 vs 66.6 (mean difference −9.2, 95% confidence interval −12.2 to −6.1, P<0.01)]. Similarly, fourth year non-healthcare students had more positive attitudes towards functioning in individuals with back pain compared with first year non-healthcare students [69.2 vs 65.3 (mean difference −3.9, 95% confidence interval −7.2 to −0.5, P=0.03)]. Physiotherapy students had more positive attitudes than non-healthcare students in the first year [66.6 vs 69.2 (mean difference −2.6, 95% confidence interval −5.5 to 0.4, P=0.08)] and the fourth year [57.4 vs 65.3 (mean difference −7.9, 95% confidence interval −11.4 to −4.4, P<0.01)] of study.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that physiotherapy education brings about positive student attitudes towards functioning in individuals with back pain. This may be partly attributable to receiving a university degree education, but would appear to be further enhanced by specifically receiving a physiotherapy degree. This may facilitate students to become more evidence-based practitioners following qualification.

Cite this article

The effect of a physiotherapy education compared with a non-healthcare education on the attitudes and beliefs of students towards functioning in individuals with back pain: An observational, cross-sectional study Cormac Ryan, Dervla Murphy, Michael Clark, Andrew Lee Physiotherapy - June 2010 (Vol. 96, Issue 2, Pages 144-150, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2009.09.010)

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