Physical therapists' perceptions of knowledge and clinical behavior regarding cardiovascular disease prevention

R Scott Van Zant, Kelly Jo Cape, Katrina Roach, Janie Sweeney
Cardiopulmonary Physical Therapy Journal 2013, 24 (2): 18-26

PURPOSE: The study purpose was to assess perceptions of physical therapists (PTs) regarding the role of physical therapy in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention.

METHODS: A 25-item survey, validated by expert cardiovascular/pulmonary (CVP) PTs, was sent electronically to 2,673 PTs. Each item represented an element of clinical practice behavior: education of CVD/risk factors (EDCVD), administration of primary CVD prevention (PRECVD), identifying underlying CVD/risk factors (IDCVD), monitoring CV status in patients with CVD (MONCVD). Responses were assigned numeric values (strongly agree = 5 to strongly disagree = 1), and mean element scores were analyzed.

RESULTS: Most of the 516 respondents were APTA Section members (34% CVP Section, 42% other Section membership) and worked in academia (53%). Items showing a high (> 95%) level of agreement included patient education of smoking (97%) and monitoring exercise intensity (99%), assessing exercise benefits (99%), clinically identifying obesity (97%) and hypertension (97%), and monitoring CV response to exercise (99%). Items failing to reach 80% overall agreement were patient education of CVD medications (79%) and blood chemistry (72%), and assessing CVD family history (75%), patient BMI (60%), and body composition (33%). Identifying underlying CVD (77.2%) was the only practice behavior failing to reach 80% agreement. Outpatient PTs agreed significantly less to all elements vs. academics, and to IDCVD vs. all PTs except home health.

CONCLUSIONS: Physical therapists support most CVD prevention behaviors, but not given elements of patient education and identifying underlying CVD/risk factors.

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