An abbreviated therapeutic neuroscience education session improves pain knowledge in 1st-year PTY students

The objective was to determine if a 3-hour therapeutic neuroscience education session alters physical therapy student’s knowledge of pain and effects their attitudes and beliefs regarding treating chronic pain. Seventy-seven entry-level doctoral physical therapy students participated in the study. Following consent, demographic data were obtained and then the subjects completed the Neuroscience of Pain Questionnaire, the Health Care Provider’s Pain and Impairment Relationship Scale and an additional questionnaire designed by the researchers. The subjects then received a 3-hour educational session developed by the researchers, focusing on the neurobiology and physiology of pain. The questionnaires were re-administered immediately after the educational session and at 6 months post-education.

Seventy-seven subjects (mean age = 24.7 years, 57.1% female and 81.8% white) completed the questionnaires pre- and post-educational session with 75 completing the questionnaires at 6 months. To assess the effect of the education on the scores of the questionnaires, a repeated measures ANOVA was conducted. Students demonstrated significantly higher scores on the neuroscience of pain questionnaire (p < 0.001) with no significant effect found on the attitudes and beliefs questionnaire at any of the time points. There were significant differences found on some of the individual questions that were part of the additional questionnaire.

An educational session on the neuroscience of pain is beneficial for educating entry-level doctoral physical therapy students immediately post-education and at 6 months. This educational session had no effect on the student’s attitudes and beliefs regarding treating the chronic pain population. There were additional significant findings regarding individual questions posed to the subjects.