Changes in pain knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of osteopathy students after completing a clinically focused pain education module

Kylie Fitzgerald, Michael Fleischmann, Brett Vaughan, Kevin de Waal, Sarah Slater, John Harbis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chronic pain is a substantial burden on the Australian healthcare system with an estimated 19.2% of Australians experiencing chronic pain. Knowledge of the neurophysiology and multidimensional aspects of pain is imperative to ensure health professionals apply a biopsychosocial approach to pain. Questionnaires may be used to assess learner changes in neurophysiology knowledge and beliefs and attitudes towards pain after education interventions. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in pain neurophysiology knowledge, beliefs and attitudes following a 12week clinically-focused pain module in year 3 osteopathy students as measured by the Neurophysiology of Pain (NPQ) Questionnaire and Health Care Providers Pain and Impairment Relationship scale (HC-PAIRS). Methods: A pre-post design was utilised. Learners completed a demographic information survey pre-module, and completed the NPQ & HC-PAIRS prior to undertaking, and after completing, a twelve week clinically-focused pain module. Results: Learners (n=55) completed the NPQ & HC-PAIRS at both time points. The median NPQ score was significantly increased with a large effect size (p<0.001, z=-5.71, r=0.78) following the completion of the module. In contrast, the HC-PAIRS total score was significantly increased after the completion of the module (p<0.01, z=-6.95, r=0.91) suggesting an increase in negative pain attitudes and beliefs. Results indicate that a clinically-focused pain module can increase pain neurophysiology knowledge. However the HC-PAIRS results suggest an increase in negative pain attitudes and beliefs. The HC-PAIRS questionnaire was developed for use with chronic low back pain attitudes & beliefs in practitioners, rather than pre-clinical students. Students were provided with general principles of pain management, rather than condition specific pain management. This study is the first comparing pain neurophysiology knowledge and changes in attitudes and beliefs towards pain pre-post a clinically-focused pain module using the NPQ & HC-PAIRS. Conclusions: There was a significant improvement in NPQ score after the 12week clinically-focused pain module. The HC-PAIRS result was paradoxical and may reflect issues with the module design or the measurement tool. The module duration is longer than that reported in the literature and demonstrates effectiveness in increasing pain neurophysiology knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalChiropractic and Manual Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute pain
  • Assessment
  • Chronic pain
  • Clinical education
  • Manual therapy
  • Measurement
  • Medical education
  • Reliability estimation
  • Simulated learning


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