Affiliations: School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Note:  Corresponding author: Laura Mackey, School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin, Ireland. Tel.: +353 86 8394413; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: INTRODUCTION: Education has been found to influence the development of physiotherapists' attitudes and beliefs regarding people with chronic low back pain (CLBP). The aims of this study were: to determine the difference in biomedical and biopsychosocial orientations between recently graduated and third year physiotherapy students, and to assess the relationship between these orientations and their adherence to evidence-based guidelines, particularly the advice they would provide to patients regarding work and activity levels. METHODS: A total of 47 students (46%) from the UCD BSc Physiotherapy programme participated in the study, completing the pain attitudes and beliefs scale for physiotherapists (PABS_PT), and a clinical vignette via SurveyMonkey. RESULTS: The findings showed that recently graduated students were significantly less biomedically-orientated than the stage three students (z = −2.981; p = 0.003), but there was no difference between student groups in their biopsychosocial orientation (z = −1.037; p = 0.300). There was no association between PABS_PT scores and the vignettes in either group (p > 0.05). Also, no significant differences between the groups' vignette responses were found, with the majority recommending advice that was not strictly consistent with evidence-based guidelines. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicated that while education may influence students' biomedical orientations, a relationship between these attitudes and beliefs and adherence to guidelines was not established, suggesting that more emphasis should be placed within undergraduate physiotherapy education on enhancing students' biopsychosocial orientations. Further research incorporating all taught BSc Physiotherapy programmes in the Republic of Ireland would provide definitive evidence of the impact of education on determining students' orientations.
Keywords: Low back pain, biomedical, biopsychosocial, guidelines, education