Affiliations: Centre for Preventive Medicine, School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland | School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Note:  Corresponding author: Dr Grainne O'Donoghue, Centre for Preventive Medicine, School of Health & Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland. Tel.: +353 1 7008880; Fax: +353 1 7008888; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: The overall objective of this study was to evaluate current Irish undergraduate physiotherapy education in relation to the promotion and prescription of physical activity and exercise for healthy and clinical populations and to devise recommendations for future education in this field to ensure professional entry-level physiotherapists are optimally prepared for contemporary practice. The evaluation consisted of a content analysis of current Irish BSc Physiotherapy programmes (n = 4) and four additional studies involving key stakeholders; final year students (n = 62) clinical educators (n = 30), academic educators (n = 27) and experienced physiotherapy clinicians (n = 72). Four key areas were identified as requiring attention in order to optimise physical activity and exercise education. These key areas are (i) curriculum content, (ii) curriculum context (relating to where the curriculum is delivered), (iii) teaching and learning strategies (and levels of learning) and (iv) curriculum design and development. The evaluation in its entirety is explored in this paper under these four main headings. Results are summarised and followed by a discussion of the implications of findings for professional entry-level physiotherapy education. Both the findings and their implications are drawn together in this way to provide a coherent picture of the new knowledge generated by this work and its potential impact on physiotherapy education. Based on this newly generated knowledge, recommendations for future physiotherapy education in terms of physical activity and exercise promotion and prescription are provided. These recommendations are accompanied by an illustrated sample curriculum for contemporary education. Methodological limitations are addressed and discussed and avenues for future research are highlighted.
Keywords: Physical activity and exercise prescription, physiotherapy entry-level education, recommendations, contemporary practice