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Educ Health (Abingdon). 2018 Sep-Dec;31(3):155-162. doi: 10.4103/efh.EfH_177_17.

Utilization of an interprofessional integrated clinical education experience to improve medical and physical therapy student comfort in treating patients with disabilities.

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Department of Medical Education, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA.
School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions and Sciences, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA.



The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of an interprofessional education (IPE) clinical experience for medical and physical therapy students on students' comfort levels and attitudes toward patients with disabilities.


Forty students were recruited for this study, 20 from the College of Medicine and 20 from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at University of Central Florida with 10 students from each program self-selected into a control group or an experimental group. The experimental group attended an IPE clinical experience that included an encounter with a patient with a disability. Students completed standardized inventories on their perceptions of difficult rehabilitation situations, comfort levels, and attitudes prior to, and immediately following, the clinical experience. The control group completed the same standardized assessments.


Using the rehabilitation situations inventory (RSI) statistically significant changes in scores from the pre- to the post-intervention (P < 0.001) were observed. In addition, a statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvement in comfort levels was found in five of the six RSI subscales which include staff-staff interactions, families, motivation/adherence, aggression, and sexual situations. Attitudes toward disabled persons (ATDP) and interactions with disabled persons (IDP) failed to find statistically significant changes in respondent scores due to the intervention (P > 0.05).


Both medical and physical therapy students reported increased comfort in dealing with rehabilitation situations after attending the IPE clinical experience. This supports the use of clinical encounters with individuals with disabilities as component of education on treating patients with disabilities.


Clinical education; disabilities; interprofessional education

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