Presentation Title

Incorporating Nutrition into Physical Therapy Practice: An Exploratory Study on Education and Attitudes

Presenter's Name(s)

Sophie JohnFollow

Abstract

There has been a recent shift in the field of physical therapy toward lifestyle health promotion and, in particular, nutrition integration. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) position states that physical therapists (PTs) should include nutrition in practice, and accreditation standards now mandate nutrition education for PTs. The profession is well-suited to promote behavior change, yet research is needed to support this transition. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to: (1) analyze current nutrition implementation by practicing PTs, (2) assess PTs’ intentions toward incorporating nutrition into their practice, and (3) examine facilitators toward integrating nutrition into physical therapy. This research was based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). A survey constructed from preliminary interview research was distributed to graduates from an entry-level physical therapy program. Data were analyzed using correlation and regression analyses. Fifty-one practicing PTs completed the survey. 43.1% of participants had received nutrition instruction. PTs with formal nutrition education found it significantly easier to incorporate nutrition into their practice (p<0.001). PTs’ intentions to integrate nutrition into their practice were best predicted by their attitudes and behavioral beliefs. Many areas in which nutrition could benefit patient outcomes were identified including: the management of obesity and chronic conditions, improved wellness and preventative care, and performance enhancement. This exploratory research demonstrated that education can equip PTs to incorporate nutrition into their practice, which may improve physical therapy outcomes. Both the addition of nutrition education into entry-level curricula as well as shifting attitudes toward incorporation of basic nutrition into physical therapy practice are crucial steps in placing the profession at the forefront of managing lifestyle diseases and promoting optimal health

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Karen Westervelt

Secondary Mentor NetID

skasser

Secondary Mentor Name

Susan Kasser

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Program/Major

Exercise Science

Primary Research Category

Health Sciences

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Incorporating Nutrition into Physical Therapy Practice: An Exploratory Study on Education and Attitudes

There has been a recent shift in the field of physical therapy toward lifestyle health promotion and, in particular, nutrition integration. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) position states that physical therapists (PTs) should include nutrition in practice, and accreditation standards now mandate nutrition education for PTs. The profession is well-suited to promote behavior change, yet research is needed to support this transition. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to: (1) analyze current nutrition implementation by practicing PTs, (2) assess PTs’ intentions toward incorporating nutrition into their practice, and (3) examine facilitators toward integrating nutrition into physical therapy. This research was based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). A survey constructed from preliminary interview research was distributed to graduates from an entry-level physical therapy program. Data were analyzed using correlation and regression analyses. Fifty-one practicing PTs completed the survey. 43.1% of participants had received nutrition instruction. PTs with formal nutrition education found it significantly easier to incorporate nutrition into their practice (p<0.001). PTs’ intentions to integrate nutrition into their practice were best predicted by their attitudes and behavioral beliefs. Many areas in which nutrition could benefit patient outcomes were identified including: the management of obesity and chronic conditions, improved wellness and preventative care, and performance enhancement. This exploratory research demonstrated that education can equip PTs to incorporate nutrition into their practice, which may improve physical therapy outcomes. Both the addition of nutrition education into entry-level curricula as well as shifting attitudes toward incorporation of basic nutrition into physical therapy practice are crucial steps in placing the profession at the forefront of managing lifestyle diseases and promoting optimal health