Pain in the physical therapy (PT) curriculum: A faculty survey

Rhonda J. Scudds, Roger A. Scudds, Maureen J. Simmonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pain is a leading cause of distress and disability and is central to clinical practice, but may not be central to the education of physical therapists. The purpose of this study was to determine the current status of pain topics taught in PT curricula. A questionnaire was mailed to 169 accredited PT programs in North America. Information was obtained on PT faculty's perception of the adequacy with which pain and pain related topics were taught within PT curricula, and the competency of their graduates to assess and manage pain. A response rate of 63.3 percent was obtained. Key results were as follows. The modal amount of time spent on pain was four hours. The majority of faculty thought that pain was adequately covered in their curriculum although their perceptions of graduates' competency to assess and treat individuals with pain were higher for acute than chronic pain. Unidimensional pain assessment scales were perceived as adequately covered in more programs (81.7%) than multidimensional scales (61.5%). Pain management techniques were thought to be adequately covered in over 80 percent of the programs. However, pain in the elderly and in children were not thought to be adequately covered in 57.3 percent and 76.2 percent of the programs, respectively. Only 33 percent of the respondents thought that cognitive-behavioural approaches to pain management were adequately covered. Although a large proportion of faculty perceived that the time spent on pain topics, in general, was inadequate, most perceived that an adequate time was spent when asked about specific pain topics in the curriculum. It is difficult to reconcile the discrepancy between the scant number of hours spent on the topic of pain with faculty's perceptions that, for most topics, adequate time is devoted to the area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-256
Number of pages18
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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