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

School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow G4 0BA, UK.
Physiotherapy (Impact Factor: 1.91). 06/2010; 96(2):144-50. DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed


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.
Observational, cross-sectional study.
Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, UK.
First year physiotherapy (n=61) and non-healthcare students (n=61), and fourth year physiotherapy (n=62) and non-healthcare students (n=62).
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.
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.
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.

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    • "have been established previously (Rainville et al., 1995; Houben et al., 2004), based on cohorts of health professionals in disciplines comparable with those student disciplines included in this study. The instrument has also been used previously in studies using health professional student cohorts (Ferreira et al., 2004; Latimer et al., 2004; Burnett et al., 2009; Ryan et al., 2010; Domenech et al., 2011). Beliefs about inevitable consequences of future life with low back problems were measured using the Back Pain Beliefs Questionnaire (BBQ) (Symonds et al., 1995). "
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