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Free Content Preparing to manage patients in pain. The student perspective: a pilot

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Objectives: This pilot study aims to explore the experience of preparing to manage patients in pain, from a student perceptive. Specifically: Do physiotherapy students consider themselves 'prepared' for practice with patients in pain and what has contributed to this sense of 'preparedness'?

Design: A phenomenological approach was taken to provide a rich description of the student experience. Data was collected via semi structured, one to one interviews with the researcher.

Setting: Data collection occurred in a neutral room on the University of East Anglia (UEA) campus. Participants: Inclusion criteria were: final year about to qualify and consented to participate. Three UEA BSc Physiotherapy students were interviewed.

Results: Six themes were identified within the data: time, confidence, relationships, professionalism, theory – practice gap and team working. Key findings included: student's personal experiences with patients informed their perceptions of preparedness; students have greater confidence in working with a bio-medical compared to a bio-psychosocial model; preparing to manage patients in pain includes developing understanding of professional responsibility, which equated to reducing a patients pain; students have theoretical understanding of patient-centered and bio-psychosocial care, but experiences in application of these principles are varied and clinical educators actively 'gate keep' opportunities for students to work with patients in pain.

Conclusions: Findings from the three themes presented here suggest physiotherapy students did not always perceive themselves prepared to manage patients in pain. However, comments were made without awareness that the shared examples indicated a lack preparedness. This perception is primarily informed by situated learning and experiences with patients in relatively acute pain. Opportunities for contextualisation of theoretical knowledge for managing persistent and chronic pain states during placement could be limited, perhaps by clinical educators actively 'gate-keeping' opportunities for students to work with certain 'types' of patients with pain.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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  • 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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