Scarce evidence has been found on factors that determine physical therapist (PT) students' comfort level in addressing sexual issues with patients. Determining influential factors and barriers may help educators adjust their curriculum to better prepare students.
To identify the comfort level of PT students in addressing sexual issues with patients, demographic factors that impact the students' comfort level, and barriers to PT students addressing sexual issues with patients.
A cross-sectional survey design.
A survey was sent to current PT students enrolled at 3 Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs. The survey consisted of demographic and scenario questions related to the students' comfort level in addressing sexual issues. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were performed to compare the differences in the comfort levels for male and female students. A χ2 analysis was performed to determine which demographic factors were significantly (P < .05) associated with the respondent's comfort level.
First-, second-, and third-year students (N = 106) completed the survey and represented programs from diverse geographic locations and religious affiliations. Less than half (41.5%) agreed that they had the necessary skills to address sexual issues, and only 23.58% of respondents were likely to initiate discussion. While students were most comfortable addressing issues with their own gender, collectively there was increased comfort level with conversations with females. Main barriers included lack of experience and knowledge, fear of patient misunderstanding, and patient comfort level.
PT students lack comfort in addressing sexual issues due to multiple barriers. Demographic information, including geological location and religious background, was not significantly associated with comfort level (see the Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, which summarizes this study available at: http://links.lww.com/JWHPT/A44).