The impact of sport psychology education on the practice of physiotherapists

Heaney, Caroline (2013). The impact of sport psychology education on the practice of physiotherapists. In: International Sports Science and Sports Medicine Conference 2013, 21-23 Aug 2013, Newcastle upon Tyne.




Sports injury can lead to negative psychological reactions such as frustration or depression and there is now a body of evidence which indicates that sport psychology intervention can benefit sports injury rehabilitation (Heaney, IJSEP 2006;4:67–80). It would, however, appear that physiotherapists are often not equipped to integrate sport psychology into rehabilitation. Generally research has shown that physiotherapists recognise the importance of psychological factors but lack the training to utilise sport psychology (Arvinen-Barrow et al. JSR 2007;16:111–121). This suggests a need for further training; yet limited research exists examining such training. Therefore the purpose of this investigation was to examine the impact of sport psychology education on physiotherapists. 67 physiotherapists were assigned to the intervention group who studied an online sport psychology module and 68 were assigned to the control group, who studied an equivalent module with no psychology content. A questionnaire package which included the Psychology of Injury Usage Survey (Stiller-Ostrowski et al. JAT 2009;44:482–9) and the Attitudes About Imagery Survey (Hamson-Utley et al. JAT 2008;43:258–264) was completed by the participants at four points: immediately before, immediately after, 3 months and 6 months after completing the module. Data were collected on areas such as attitudes towards sport psychology, use of sport psychology and referral. Studying the module appeared to have a positive impact on the physiotherapists. Both attitudes towards and use of sport psychology improved following completion of the module. Importantly, use of sport psychology strategies was maintained during the 6 months following the completion of the module indicating a positive longitudinal effect. The findings of this study would suggest that sport psychology CPD courses should be more widely available to practicing physiotherapists.

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