Purpose: Essential pain education produces graduates who are competent in contemporary pain management. Despite various educational resources, surveys demonstrate minimal pain content in entry-level physical therapist education programs. This paper examines 1) the learning content of pain education and faculty expertise teaching core pain content, 2) whether pain education content is sufficient to prepare physical therapists to meet the needs of contemporary pain management, and 3) whether standardization of pain education in entry level Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs is advantageous. Methods: A pain education survey was developed and sent to all accredited DPT program directors in New York State. The survey included questions related to content and hours devoted to teaching 1) pain science, 2) pain education, 3) psychosocial factors, 4) biopsychosocial model, 5) cognitive-behavioral techniques, 6) advanced faculty training, and 7) challenges adding pain education to the curriculum. Results: In total, 10/15 programs responded. (1) 60% reported they do not have a class dedicated to pain science, (2) 60% reported < 10 hours of pain education (3) 60% reported a class on psychosocial factors, (4) 50% reported < 10 hours on the biopsychosocial model, (5) cognitive- behavioral techniques varied between 10-30 hours, (6) 70% of faculty received advanced training, and (7) challenges to adding pain education included time, a dense curriculum, and pain content is not part of NPTE exam questions. Conclusions and Recommendations: New York State accredited DPT programs include pain education, although content, time, and methods vary greatly. Increased standardization for pain education would create consistency across all U.S. DPT programs. Based on the findings from the study, an investigation should be undertaken to determine if more specific standards for pain education are advantageous for the entry level DPT curricula.
Tatta J, Spoto M, Lorenzetti J. Pain Education Training in New York State Physical Therapy Programs: What We Do Well, Where the Gaps Are, and What Can Be Improved. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2022 Jun 29;20(3), Article 5.