Advances in mobile and web-based technologies have changed the way that health information is accessed and shared. However, technology utilization among physical therapist (PT) students remains unclear.
The purpose of this study was to describe technology utilization and comfort with use among PT students in the United States.
This was a cross-sectional study.
Students in 3 PT programs were invited to participate in a paperbased survey on social media and smartphone/tablet use.
In all, 299 PT students completed the survey. Of that total, 83% of students owned a smart phone and 34% owned a tablet. Primary uses of mobile devices were to send and receive text messages and email and to access social media. On a daily basis, 84% of respondents reported using Facebook for personal purposes, 49% for academic purposes, and 12% for professional purposes. Similar trends were observed for Twitter and LinkedIn. Eighteen percent of students reported they felt comfortable using social media for professional purposes. Eighty-four percent agreed that smartphones and tablets would be part of their future practice, but only 16% indicated they had received instruction on mobile and internet technology competencies.
The findings of this study may be limited by response bias and may not reflect technology competency and utilization of the population of doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students.
PT students primarily use mobile devices and social media for personal purposes. Few students feel comfortable using these technologies for professional purposes despite the fact that they overwhelmingly anticipate that they will use them in future practice. Educators should consider including mobile technology and social media use in the PT curriculum to prepare students for professional application of technology tools.