Introduction of a psychologically informed educational intervention for pre-licensure physical therapists in a classroom setting.
There is an increasing need for physical therapists to address psychosocial aspects of musculoskeletal pain. Psychologically informed practice is one way to deliver this type of care through the integration of biopsychosocial interventions into patient management. An important component of psychologically informed practice is patient centered communication. However, there is little research on how to effectively implement patient centered communication into pre-licensure training for physical therapists.
Thirty Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students took part in an educational intervention that consisted of one 4-h didactic teaching session and three 1-h experiential learning sessions. Prior to the first session, students performed an examination of a standardized patient with chronic low back pain and were assessed on psychologically informed physical therapy (PIPT) adherent behaviors via a rating scale. Students also completed the Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (PABS-PT). After the last experiential session, students evaluated another standardized patient and were reassessed on PIPT adherent behaviors. Students retook the PABS-PT and qualitative data was also collected.
After the educational intervention, students had positive changes in their pain attitudes and belief scores indicating a stronger orientation toward a psychosocial approach to patient care (p < 0.05). Additionally, after the intervention, students showed improvements in their adherence to using PIPT behaviors in their simulated patient interactions (p < 0.05). Qualitatively, students reported a high acceptability of the educational intervention with common themes indicating improved confidence with treating and communicating with complex patients.
Students had attitudes and beliefs shift towards a more psychosocial orientation and demonstrated improved PIPT behaviors in simulated patient interactions after a brief educational intervention. Future research should investigate best practices for implementation of psychologically informed physical therapy for licensed clinicians.
Ballengee, LA; Covington, JK; George, SZ
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