University of Limerick
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Effect of pain neurophysiology education on physiotherapy students understanding of chronic pain, clinical recommendations and attitudes towards people with chronic pain: a randomised controlled trial

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posted on 2018-01-02, 16:45 authored by G. Colleary, KIERAN O'SULLIVANKIERAN O'SULLIVAN, D. Griffin, C.G. Ryan, D.J. Martin
Objective To investigate the effect of pain neurophysiology education (PNE) on student physiotherapists’: (1) knowledge of chronic pain;(2) attitudes towards patients with chronic pain; and (3) clinical recommendations for patients with chronic pain.Design Multicentre single-blind randomised controlled trial.Setting One UK and one Irish university.Participants Seventy-two student physiotherapists.Intervention Participants received either PNE (intervention) or a control education. Both were delivered in a 70-minute group lecture.Main outcome measures (1) The Revised Pain Neurophysiology Quiz to assess knowledge; (2) the Health Care Pain Attitudes and ImpairmentRelationship Scale (HC-PAIRS) to assess attitudes; and (3) a case vignette to assess the appropriateness of clinical recommendations.Results Post education, the PNE group had a greater increase in pain neurophysiology knowledge [mean difference 4.0 (95% confidenceinterval 3.2 to 4.7), P < 0.01] and more improved attitudes [−17.5 (95% confidence interval −22.1 to −12.9), P < 0.01] compared with thecontrol group. Post education, students in the PNE group were more likely to make appropriate recommendations regarding work (94% vs56%), exercise (92% vs 56%), activity (94% vs 67%) and bed rest (69% vs 33%) compared with those in the control group (P < 0.05).Conclusion The improvements in knowledge, attitudes and recommendations for pain management show that PNE is a potentially valuablepart of the education of physiotherapy students, and could be used on a more widespread basis. There is a need to investigate whether thesefindings can be replicated in other healthcare professions, and how well these reported changes lead to changes in actual clinical behaviourand the clinical outcomes of patients.



Physiotherapy;103 (4), pp. 423-429






This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Physiotherapy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Physiotherapy, 2017, 103 (4), pp. 423-429,



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