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

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Abstract

Background:
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.

Purpose:
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.

Methods:
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).

Results:
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.

Conclusion:
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
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2024

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