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Free Content Arthritis Knowledge: A Survey of Health Professional Students

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Background: Recent reports indicate that disease-specific educational modules have resulted in improved knowledge among resident physicians. These findings suggest that graduate level health professional students may also benefit from similar strategies focused on arthritis, the leading cause of disability in the United States (U.S.). The purpose of this pilot study was to examine arthritis knowledge among healthcare professional students whose current curriculums include didactic arthritis content. Methods: A survey of arthritis knowledge was developed to examine general arthritis knowledge and the epidemiological impact of arthritis among healthcare professional students. The survey was administered to 164 first, second, and third year students enrolled in graduate occupational and physical therapy programs. Results: The findings of the current study address risk factors recognition and arthritis knowledge. Risk factors recognition - 94% identified age; 68% identified gender; 94% identified genetics; 90% identified joint injuries; 73% identified obesity as a risk factor; and 55% identified occupation. More than 50% of the students identified the six risk factors most likely to lead to arthritis. Arthritis knowledge: prevalence, disability impact, and cost - 100% correctly identified arthritis symptoms; 26% of the students surveyed reported arthritis as the third leading cause of disability; 85% of the survey respondents reported that in the U.S. women have higher rates of arthritis; and 31% knew the health care cost of arthritis in the U.S. Conclusions: All students recognized the symptoms of arthritis and most recognized its individual risk factors, but few exhibited knowledge of the financial and disability burden associated with arthritis. These findings suggested that despite didactic arthritis content in both the occupational and physical therapy programs arthritis risk factors recognition and arthritis knowledge were mixed. Further research examining arthritis knowledge among a broader range of health professional students may be important to determine if disease-specific educational modules are needed in all graduate health professional programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Allied Health is the official publication of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP). The Journal is the only interdisciplinary allied health periodical, publishing scholarly works related to research and development, feature articles, research abstracts and book reviews. Readers of the Journal comprise allied health leaders, educators, faculty and students.
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