Physical therapists can play an important role in improving the health of populations. However, little information exists about how physical therapists are prepared for population-based practice. The purpose of this study was to determine the current and desired coverage of population health concepts within entry-level physical therapist programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The Clinical Prevention and Population Health (CPPH) Curriculum Framework of the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research guided the study.
Program directors at CAPTE-accredited physical therapist education program were invited to participate in an online survey. Sixty-three of 237 program directors (27%) responded.
Program directors agreed that 22 of 23 CPPH domains should be included in entry-level physical therapist education programs, although only 9 of these domains had at least moderate coverage within current curriculums. The largest gaps between current and desired coverage were for occupational health, population health informatics, counseling for behavioral change, global health issues, and organization of clinical and public health systems.
Discussion and Conclusion.
The CPPH Framework may be a useful tool for physical therapy faculty to use when incorporating population health into their curriculums. The identified gaps between current and desired coverage may be a useful place to start curriculum development efforts. Similarities between responses to this survey and those in a companion study of occupational therapist programs suggests that it may be useful for faculty from physical therapist and occupational therapist programs to collaborate in curriculum development efforts related to population health.