Patient education is an integral component of physical therapy practice. Little is known about the factors that influence new-graduate physical therapists' preparedness to perform patient education. Self-efficacy is an important construct in understanding how graduates will engage in this professional role. The purpose of this study was to investigate new-graduate physical therapists' self-efficacy across patient education competencies and to explore the relationship between self-efficacy and entry-level training experiences.
New-graduate physical therapists completed a survey with four components: 1) a self-efficacy scale derived from patient education competencies; 2) questions about their training experiences; 3) an open response question relating to their perception of their patient education ability; and 4) demographic questions. Self-efficacy data were compared between groups based on training experiences and demographic groups. Open response data were subject to qualitative framework analysis.
A total of 121 new-graduate physical therapists (84.6%) completed the survey. One third of new graduates reported having high self-efficacy in relation to all patient education competencies. Nearly all respondents perceived that performing patient education during clinical placements (96%) and receiving feedback (93%) had a significant influence on their confidence to perform patient education. Most respondents (89.3%) reported having previous experiences representing all sources of self-efficacy during their entry-level training. These respondents had significantly higher self-efficacy scores than those who were lacking one or more experiences (P = .045). Half of all respondents (52%) reported all training experiences as “significant” in contributing to their confidence and had significantly higher self-efficacy scores than those who did not perceive all experiences as “significant” (P < .001). Emerging themes relating to the most meaningful influences on ability to perform patient education were 1) direct clinical practice, 2) observation of others, 3) feedback, and 4) rehearsal.
Discussion and Conclusion.
These findings support the mediating effects of Bandura's main sources of self-efficacy on new graduates' self-efficacy regarding patient education. Considerations for physical therapy curricular aimed at enhancing development of self-efficacy related to patient education is outlined.