A study published in The Journal of Pain showed that just 2 of 3 accredited physical therapy (PT) schools surveyed believe their students receive adequate education in pain management. The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.
Researchers from the University of Iowa and Marquette University developed a survey to determine the levels of pain education offered in current doctorate of physical therapy schools in the United States. The survey had 10 questions covering whether pain education covered basic science mechanisms and concepts about pain, pain assessment, pain management, and adequacy of pain curriculum. The survey was designed to evaluate how pain was incorporated into the curriculum, the amount of time spent on pain, and resources used to teach pain.
Results showed only 63 percent of responding PT schools believed their students received adequate instruction in pain management. However, the majority of schools that responded to the survey (140/167) said they have designated blocks of time to address pain, and these blocks are integrated throughout the curriculum. Almost all of the responding programs (99 percent) teach subjective pain intensity rating scales and 83 percent teach pain-specific questionnaires or rating scales.
"This survey shows physical therapists are making great strides in pain education, but there still is large variability in what is offered across programs, said co-author Kathleen Sluka, PT, Ph.D., professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, University of Iowa. " We believe inclusion of pain specific content in all PT programs is critical to providing future physical therapists with the skills to adequately treat those with acute and chronic pain."