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Physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription in undergraduate physiotherapy education: content analysis of Irish curricula

Abstract

Background

Overwhelming evidence shows that physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription are effective in preventing and managing numerous chronic conditions. With physiotherapists commonly referred to as ‘exercise prescription experts’, an in-depth knowledge of exercise promotion and prescription is assumed. However, to date, no information exists about what is or should be included in terms of undergraduate physiotherapy physical activity and exercise education, nor whether the content prepares graduates to be exercise experts for contemporary practice.

Objectives

To provide an accurate, contemporary picture of physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription content within Irish undergraduate physiotherapy curricula.

Method

Content analysis was used to explore physical activity and exercise inclusion within four of the five programmes in Ireland. Seven categories were generated. Frequency analysis for each category was used to provide a guide to the extensiveness of physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription content.

Results

All curricula included varying quantities of basic exercise science and exercise testing and prescription. Physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription for conditions routinely referred to physiotherapy, such as cardio respiratory disease, were well represented. Three key areas were identified as being absent or needing further emphasis: physical activity/exercise for public health, strategies for changing physical activity behaviour, and physical activity/exercise for lifestyle-related diseases.

Conclusion

Results indicate a strong need for re-evaluation of physical activity and exercise education in Irish physiotherapy curricula. There is a lack of explicit exercise content in relation to public health and lifestyle-related disease.

Cite this article

Physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription in undergraduate physiotherapy education: content analysis of Irish curriculaGrainne O’Donoghue, Catherine Doody, Tara CusackPhysiotherapy 1 June 2011 (volume 97 issue 2 Pages 145-153 DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2010.06.006)

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