The effect of professional education on the knowledge and attitudes of physical therapist and occupational therapist students about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

J A Balogun, M T Kaplan, T M Miller
Physical Therapy 1998, 78 (10): 1073-82

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Anxiety and fear about caring for people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) are concerns expressed by students in health care professions. This study was designed to evaluate the influence of education offered to physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT) students on their knowledge, attitudes, and willingness to provide services to people with AIDS.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Twenty-six undergraduate PT students and 23 undergraduate OT students completed a questionnaire at the beginning of their professional education program, following a 5-hour AIDS education seminar, and shortly before their graduation. The questionnaire consisted of 3 subscales designed to evaluate the respondents' knowledge, attitudes, and willingness to treat people with AIDS.

RESULTS: At the time of graduation, the students in both disciplines showed improvement in knowledge about AIDS (14.3% for PT students and 13.8% for OT students) and more positive attitudes toward people with AIDS (7.4% for PT students and 5% for OT students). In both disciplines, the students' willingness to provide services for people with AIDS remained unchanged following the AIDS education seminar and at the end of the professional education program.

CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: The professional education offered to the cohort of students in this study appeared to be beneficial in improving their knowledge and attitudes toward people with AIDS, but it did not affect their willingness to work with this patient group.

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