Purpose: The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic challenged physical therapy students and faculty. The faculty at this institution implemented a modular curriculum progressing from in-person to remote learning to parallel a predicted autumn COVID-19 surge. This study compares the effect of varying educational models on physical therapy students’ physical activity and social isolation outcomes during their program’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We hypothesized that changes in students’ physical activity and social interaction would be observed throughout the semester as the curriculum became more distance based. Methods: This prospective cohort investigation of 42 students from a single physical therapy program was conducted from August through December of 2020. Students’ physical activity [International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ)] and social isolation [Lubben Social Network Scale-6 (LSNS-6)] were assessed at four timepoints. Each timepoint included progressively less in-person interaction and more remote learning. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were performed for each measure, with associated post hoc timepoint comparisons. Results: Students’ IPAQ scores were significantly affected by time, F(2.54, 104.18) = 6.71, p = .001, ɷ2 = .19, as were their scores on the LSNS-6, F(2.48,101.48) = 4.09, p = .013, ɷ2 = .060. Conclusions: Statistical reductions in physical activity and social interactions were observed; however, on average the cohort did not drop below at-risk levels on either the IPAQ or LSNS-6. Faculty can rest assured that any curricular model will not adversely affect students; however, should be aware of the adverse effects observed in a minority of students who may be at increased risk.
Flowers DW, Bernard A, McCallister E, Sant LR. Physical Therapy Students Experience Reductions in Physical Activity and Social Interaction During Coronavirus-Related Curricular Changes: A Cohort Study. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2023 Jun 29;21(3), Article 22.