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NEWS ITEMS - News-2014

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Core competencies for education in pain management in physiotherapy curricula: Time for change?

Pain science has made significant advances over the last decades, including both basic and clinical pain science domains. Yet physiotherapy curricula around the globe often continue teaching management of diseases from a biomechanical or biomedical viewpoint. For example, (clinical and theoretical) classes are often organized around a specific (group) of biomedically defined illnesses (such as rheumatic or neurological diseases, or around a joint or anatomical region like the shoulder or lower back). Yet patients seek help primarily for pain.

Pain is the number one reason for a patient to visit a physiotherapist. This applies to the area of musculoskeletal physiotherapy, but also to patients that are categorized in the cardiopulmonary, geriatric, oncological or neurological domains of physiotherapy. It is time for physiotherapy curricula to integrate our current understanding of (chronic) pain more thoroughly. The April 2014 issue of Physical Therapy addresses this important issue by publishing a hallmark paper entitled ‘An interprofessional consensus of core competencies for prelicensure education in pain management: Curriculum application for physical therapy’ (Marie K. Hoeger Bement et al.).

Pain in Motion applauds the initiative, and underscores the importance of integrating our current understanding of (chronic) pain more thoroughly in physiotherapy curricula. On April 17, 2014, a couple of Pain in Motion members enjoyed a meeting in Brussels with colleagues from the physiotherapy education of Hogeschool Zuyd (University College Zuyd, the Netherlands), led by Dr. Albère Köke ( The conclusion of that meeting was that pain education varies widely across physiotherapy curricula, and more work is required to integrate current pain science in physiotherapy education in order for physiotherapy students to gain the required competencies for evidence-based pain management.

Further reading:

Physical Therapy 2014 Apr;94(4):451-65. An interprofessional consensus of core competencies for prelicensure education in pain management: curriculum application for physical therapy.

Jo Nijs
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