Exploring mental health approaches and curriculum in physiotherapy: an Australasian perspective

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Exposure to mental health problems are becoming increasingly more frequent within physiotherapy. Physiotherapists recognize the need for a biopsychosocial approach, how-ever their knowledge, assessment, and treatment skills specific to mental health problems requires further research.

To profile the level of education and perception of education that physiotherapists have acquired specific to mental health problems; and to profile an understanding of the current practice of physiotherapists specific to mental health problems.

An online survey addressed the aims of the study and collected data from physiothera-pists in Australia and New Zealand (open between 20th of October 2022 to the 20th of March 2023).

139 respondents were included in the analysis. Physiotherapists had a perception that a significantly greater amount of coursework related to mental health needed to be included within their initial degree compared to what they received (mean difference of 20.0%, 95% CI: 17.5 to 22.5). This trend was evident irrespective of the degree level or the year of graduation. Higher perceived knowledge of anxiety (MD of 11.4, p = 0.001, ES: 0.5) and depression (MD of 11.8, p = 0.001, ES: 0.5) was evident in outpatient care physiotherapists. Lack of perceived knowledge is a reason for whether an assessment or treatment strategy is used with patients experiencing a mental health problem. Motivational interviewing and mindfulness were the most frequently used psychologically based techniques.

This study reveals the need to increase the amount of mental health and psycholo-gically based techniques within Physiotherapy curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2024


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