Therapy Students’ Recommendations of Physical Activity for Managing Persistent Low Back Pain in Older Adults

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity
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Negative views of older adults can lead to suboptimal care. For older adults with persistent low back pain (LBP), promotion of physical activity by health care professionals is important. Health care professionals’ views of older adults are influenced by their training. This study aimed to compare recommendations for physical activity for managing persistent LBP offered by students in physiotherapy and occupational therapy to an older person vs. a younger person. In a cross-sectional online survey, participants (N = 77) randomly received a vignette of either a 40-yr-old or 70-yr-old patient with persistent LBP. Other than age, the vignettes were identical. There was no difference between the younger and older vignettes in the likelihood of participants making overall appropriate physical activity recommendations—63% vs. 59%, OR (95%CI) = 1.19 (0.48–2.99), p = .71—although there was a trend toward age bias on recommendations specific to daily activity. Postqualification education may be where ageist views need to be addressed.

Ryan and Martin are with the School of Health and Social Care, Teesside University, Teesside, UK. Schofield is with the Dept. of Academic General Practice, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, UK.