Knowledge and Attitudes of Physical Therapy Students across a Longitudinal Healthcare Systems-Focused Patient Safety Curriculum
Purpose/Hypothesis: After the release of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports on errors, patient safety, and core competencies for health professions education starting in 1999, most health professions education programs increased their focus on a systems approach to patient safety. The physical therapy profession lagged behind, driven in part by accreditation requirements focused more on individual safety and less on system contributions to patient safety. The purpose of this abstract is to describe change in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student knowledge and attitudes following a longitudinal system-focused patient safety curriculum. Number of Subjects: DPT class of 66 students. Upon matriculation, mean class age 24, 24% male. Materials and Methods: A systems-focused approach to patient safety was added to the DPT Program at the University of Colorado, including six sessions of discipline specific and Interprofessional curricula over 2.5 years. Change in student knowledge and attitudes were assessed via the modified version of the Attitudes of Patient Safety Questionnaire III (APSQ-III) and three healthcare culture and professional questions from the Patient Safety Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge Scale (PS-ASK) questionnaire. Results: 100% and 97% survey response rate. A statistically significant change in mean response pre to post-survey for four of the nine APSQ-III subscales. 18 of the 25 APSQ-III questions improved pre to post-survey toward the desired direction, while two remained unchanged at 100%. Culture focused attitude questions on the PS-ASK remained very low, or did not change. Conclusions: Student knowledge and attitudes improved in several important domains of patient safety including patient safety training, situational awareness, role of provider competence, and disclosure responsibility. Challenges remain in the areas of professional responsibility and the healthcare culture and error. While evaluation of education curricula is a first step, multi-program, formal educational research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of such a curricula on the knowledge and attitudes of Doctor of Physical Therapy students. Clinical Relevance: The ethos of the physical therapy profession has been to focus intently on individual patient safety. This study provides preliminary support for including longitudinal system-focused patient safety content in Doctor of Physical Therapy curricula, through both discipline specific and interprofessional education.