A qualitative and quantitative investigation of the psychology content of UK physiotherapy education

Heaney, Caroline; Green, Alison; Rostron, Claire and Walker, Natalie (2012). A qualitative and quantitative investigation of the psychology content of UK physiotherapy education. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 26(3)

Abstract

Background and Purpose: A knowledge and understanding of psychology is recognized as being important to physiotherapy practice since psychological factors can impact upon physical recovery. However, little is known about the nature of psychology education within UK physiotherapy training programs. The purpose of the study was therefore to examine current psychology provision within physiotherapy programs in UK universities, using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

Subjects: The participants were self-selected representatives from seventeen UK universities. These representatives were program directors, program leaders or lecturers teaching on the physiotherapy program.

Methods: The participants were questioned regarding the nature and extent of psychology covered in their program, the delivery and assessment of any psychology content, the perceived importance of psychology in physiotherapy training, and factors influencing psychology provision in their physiotherapy programs.

Results: All of the universities claimed to include some degree of psychology content within their physiotherapy programs and largely agreed that psychology is an important component in the education and training of physiotherapists. However, there appears to be great diversity both within and between universities in the provision of psychology education, and an underlying inconsistency between the reported importance of psychology and the demonstrated importance of psychology through its visibility within physiotherapy programs.

Discussion and Conclusion: More needs to be done to standardize the psychology content of physiotherapy programs in order to ensure that students at all institutions receive a similar level of training in psychology that can positively impact on their professional practice.

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