Medical Genetics Literacy in Physical Therapist Education

Purpose/Hypothesis : The advances in medical genetics in treating disease necessitates practitioners develop a better understanding of this topic as it relates to their clinical practice. To date no study has identified the status of medical genetics instruction in physical therapist education. The purpose of this descriptive survey study was to determine the status of genetics education in accredited physical therapist education programs in the United States.Number of Subjects : Potential survey respondents included 205 program directors of accredited physical therapist education programs in the United States.Materials/Methods : A 15-item electronic survey, which was previously reviewed by a physical therapy genetics education expert, was sent to the defined subject pool. Three separate individually addressed contacts were made yielding an initial response from 72 subjects. A hard copy version of the survey was mailed with stamped self-addressed envelope to the remaining 133 subjects. A final total of 104 respondents (50.7%) were received, and 99 responses were analyzed (5 declined participation).Results : Most respondents were female (61%) with doctoral training (89%) who had practiced physical therapy 20+ years (87%) and served as a program director for 0-5 years (39%). Previous exposure to genetics literacy came primarily from outside reading (51%) and from related courses in professional/graduate school instruction (30%). A total of 20% of respondents identified no exposure to genetics literacy. Genetics-related information was incorporated in required courses of 73% of programs. Six programs (6%) had a required course dedicated to genetics-related topics, while 15% of respondents indicated that genetics-related instruction was not formally incorporated in their curriculum. Genetics-related topics were most frequently taught by physical therapists (63%), other health professionals (16%) and faculty in other academic disciplines (15%). Five programs (5%) required a genetics-related course as an admission pre-requisite. While 64% of respondents believed that genetics literacy was important in the treatment of patients, only 40% believed genetics-related education to be a priority for physical therapy students.Conclusions : A total of 85% of respondent physical therapy programs contain some form of genetics-related instruction in their curriculum, while 15% contain no such instruction. Genetics-related topics are most frequently taught by physical therapists. Program directors agree (64%) about the importance of genetics literacy in patient treatment, but a minority (40%) agree that genetics literacy is a priority for physical therapy students.Clinical Relevance : With the advent of medical genetics and genomics playing a greater role in defining the origins of pathology and novel ways of treating disease, it is important to understand the current status of genetics literacy in physical therapy education programs.

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  • Control #: 1726252
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Robert S. Van Zant, George Hwang, Mandee Kerns, Kim Lindblade, Carlton McFarlane, Julie Toney
  • Keywords: genetics education|genomics

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