Learning about health promotion through behavior change: a novel qualitative study of physiotherapy students incorporating applied intervention and reflection Academic Article uri icon


  • Introduction and Aim: A broader definition of health, and an increase in lifestyle-related health conditions, have necessitated a change in physiotherapy practice. As a result, what entry-level students learn about health and wellbeing for 21st century needs is receiving more attention. The aim of this study was to explore what entry-level physiotherapy students learned experientially about health promotion and behavior change by working with a peer to reciprocally prescribe and receive a six-week health promotion program. Method: Thematic analysis of an assessment task that students submitted as part of their enrolment in a second-year physiotherapy subject. Results: Analysis revealed three themes: 1) physiotherapist's contribution to the health and wellbeing of others; 2) needing to understand determinants of health to collaboratively facilitate behavior change; and 3) benefits of experiential activities to learn about professional/personal roles. Discussion: Students demonstrated understanding of the complexity and challenges associated with being a practitioner. The assessment task gave students an authentic learning experience to navigate factors such as establishing personal interests, negotiating goals, and addressing motivation. Furthermore, it highlighted that opportunities may exist for students to participate in, and learn from, practice-relevant situations outside of clinical placements.

publication date

  • 2019