Health and Wellness Behaviors of Faculty Employed in Physical Therapist Education Programs

Purpose/Hypothesis : Studies have shown that physicians who have healthy personal habits are more likely to encourage patients to adopt related habits. This prompted one author to speculate that √ípromoting medical student health should therefore be an innovative, efficient, and effective way to improve patient outcomes√ď. Promoting physical therapist student health could yield similar results. By virtue of the extended time they spend with PT students, faculty in PT programs can be powerful role models for healthy habits. The purpose of this study was to determine: 1) the extent to which faculty employed in entry-level PT programs practice simple healthy habits; and 2) the extent to which PT education programs promote and encourage those habits.Number of Subjects : One hundred eighty four (184) faculty employed in entry-level PT programs.Materials/Methods : A link to an online survey was sent to faculty of all CAPTE-accredited PT education programs. Besides gathering basic demographic data, the survey asked for feedback in several areas, including: medical checkups; sleep habits; exercise habits; eating habits; perceived stress; and perceptions of the extent to which PT programs educate and support faculty in practicing healthy personal habits.Results : The average age of respondents was 49.3 years. 64% were female and 36% were male. Respondents averaged 13 years of employment in PT education programs. Overall, the results indicate that the majority of faculty are practicing healthy personal habits. However, some results should be examined in greater detail. For example, 86% of the group have never smoked and the high majority reported general medical checkups, blood pressure checks and cholesterol checks within the last year. However, the average BMI of the group was 25.8 (range 17.4-48.7) and 46% of respondents had a BMI greater than 24.9. The group averaged 7 hours of sleep per night on weeknights (range 4-9), but 27% of the group reported fewer than 7 hours per night on average. As a group, respondents averaged 200 minutes of aerobic exercise per week (range 0-700), but 37% reported less than the recommended150 minutes per week. As a group, respondents averaged 1.5 days of strength training per week (range 0-5), but 55% reported fewer than the recommended 2 days per week. The majority of respondents reported that their PT programs encouraged and supported the practice of healthy habits on the part of faculty.Conclusions : The results suggest that, although a majority of faculty in PT programs are routinely practicing a variety of healthy habits, a substantial percentage of PT faculty are not and, therefore, may not be the best role models for PT students. 74% of the respondents who submitted narrative responses indicated that either too many work responsibilities or too little time outside of work was a primary barrier to routinely practicing healthy habits.Clinical Relevance : If physical therapists who practice healthy personal habits are more likely to encourage patients to adopt related habits, then promoting those healthy habits should be a priority among PT educators.

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  • Control #: 1727567
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Brian J. McKiernan, Christina Wisdom, Trista Henderson, Katherine Hoffman, Justin Johnson, Lindsay Pierson, Jennifer Watson
  • Keywords: healthy habits|wellness

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