Purpose: The purpose of this study was to elucidate wellness promotion beliefs and practices of pediatric physical therapists.
Methods: From a random sample of 500 American Physical Therapy Association Pediatric Section active members, 257 physical therapists (51%) returned usable questionnaires designed to gather information on professional and personal wellness beliefs and practices.
Results: Descriptive statistics and chi-square analyses were performed to describe current wellness promotion practices. Most participants considered wellness multidimensional, valued wellness, and incorporated wellness practices into their personal life. Only 54.5% of respondents, however, reported incorporating wellness into pediatric physical therapy practice. A third of the respondents identified themselves as either thinking or preparing to incorporate wellness promotion into practice. Factors associated with wellness promotion were older age group, knowledge, belief that wellness promotion was a physical therapy responsibility, and participation in personal wellness lifestyle activities. The most frequent barriers cited were external factors related to resources, time, and the child/family.
Conclusions: Current pediatric physical therapy practice reflects a more traditional model of care rather than a wellness promotion approach. With a paradigm shift in healthcare toward wellness promotion, pediatric physical therapists need to align practice with current societal needs and national healthcare campaigns. Continuing education programs that are participatory and well matched to the characteristics and needs of the attendees combined with collegial support may prove fruitful in providing pediatric physical therapists with the knowledge, motivation, and strategies needed to accomplish this goal.