The Effects of an AIDS Education Program on the Knowledge and Attitudes of a Physical Therapy Class

Sharon L Held


Background and Purpose. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of an education unit on physical therapy students' knowledge about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), their attitudes toward patients with AIDS, and their willingness to treat patients who have AIDS. Subjects. A sample of convenience of 103 entry-level undergraduate junior physical therapy students, aged 20 to 35 years (X̅=22.1, SD=2.8), from one class at one institution participated in this study. Methods. A two-group pretest-posttest with control group delayed-intervention design was used. Subjects were randomly assigned to either a group that received an AIDS education unit (experimental group) or a group that did not receive a special education unit (control group). All subjects were pretested and posttested together with a modified version of the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Nursing AIDS Study Questionnaire. Willingness to treat patients who have AIDS was assessed based on self-report responses. After the pretest of both groups, the experimental group received an AIDS education unit followed by the posttest, whereas the control group received no AIDS education unit before the posttest. Results. The experimental group showed significant improvement of knowledge, attitudes, and willingness to treat patients who have AIDS as a result of the AIDS education unit. The control group showed no significant change or a lowered score and thus a change in a nondesired direction. The results of this study confirm the effectiveness of an AIDS education program for physical therapy students at this institution. Conclusion and Discussion. Further study of entry-level graduate physical therapy students, licensed physical therapists, and other allied health professionals is needed to determine whether the education of these groups can affect their knowledge and attitudes toward patients with AIDS. Improved knowledge and attitudes of the health care provider with an increased willingness to treat patients who have AIDS ensures these patients will receive optimal and appropriate health care.

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  • Received December 3, 1991.
  • Accepted October 27, 1992.