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Free Content Flo's story: the development of a facebook learning object for health and social care students about persistent pain in older people

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Introduction: 50-80% of older people experience persistent pain. Thus, it is important that health and social care education prepares students to work with this specific group. Students need to understand and empathise with the older person's perspectives and experiences. This is difficult to achieve in time-limited classroom and clinical placement environments.

Aim: The aim of this project was to create and provisionally pilot a Facebook Learning Object (FLO) for health and social care students to develop their understanding of, and empathy with, older people with persistent pain.

Method: A FLO has been created which presents the experience of living with persistent pain in the form of a fictitious older (+65 years) person's (Called Florence or “Flo”) Facebook entries and interactions with “Facebook Friends.” The Facebook storyline was written by a professional playwright using older peoples' accounts from previous research The project involved four student researchers and a student-centered approach was taken to the development of the resource. Input was sought through focus groups with students from a range of different health and social care professions (Including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nursing students) and from older adults with persistent pain. The focus groups were analysed using thematic analysis and the findings were used to develop the learning object.

Results: Four student focus groups (n=30) identified a number of key issues in the development of the resource. Key potential barriers such as student fears regarding the privacy of their Facebook account were identified and solutions to these barriers were identified. A provisional version of the learning object was piloted with physiotherapy students (n=9) showing evidence of enhanced positive attitudes towards older people on the Attitudes Towards Older People Scale (ATOPS), which fits with the learning aim of the learning object. This provides initial proof of concept of the learning object.

Discussion: A Facebook Learning object has been created which aims to develop health and social care students understanding of, and empathy with, older people with persistent pain Feedback from student focus groups was positive indicating a high level of acceptability amongst students and initial piloting demonstrated proof of concept. It is envisaged that this novel learning tool will enhance health and social care student education and ultimately enhance the well-being of future service users.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Pain and Rehabilitation is a peer-reviewed, Bi-annual journal of the Physiotherapy Pain Association and special interest group of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. The journal comprises a range of different articles types from orignial articles to systematic reviews and letters around the topic of pain and rehabilitation. The journal is multidisciplinary in its focus and welcomes submissions from all professionals working in this multidisciplinary field. the abstract of all articles will be freely avilable online. Full text articles are available free online to members of the Physiotherapy Pain Association, and access to individual PDF articles can be purchased by non members.
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