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Health comparison of physical therapy students from their first to second year of a three-year professional masters program

1 May 1997


The purpose of our study was to evaluate changes in the health status of students over an 18 month period of a 26 month masters of physical therapy program. The subject population consisted of twenty-one volunteer students, 7 males and 14 females, averaging 25.6 years of age. Physical fitness changes were measured by determining the VO2max of the subjects. Results over this 18 month period revealed a significant increase in VO2max for females between initial and 15 month evaluations as demonstrated by the one-way ANOV A with repeated measures (p=0.003). The mean VO2max value for females at initial to 18 months was (SD=6.491) and 44.464 (SD=8.l39). There was no significant change demonstrated in the males. Body composition was assessed through skinfold measurements using Lange® calipers. Males exhibited a significant increase in percent body fat (p=0.OI4) between initial evaluation and 15 month re-evaluation, with an initial value at 10.36% (SD=3.951) and a 15 month value at 12.74% (SD=4.302). Females showed no significant change in percent body fat. Nutrition was assessed using a three day dietary record. The variables analyzed were calories, protein, fat, fiber, sodium, carbohydrates, cholesterol, calcium and iron in terms of intake quantities and percent of recommended daily allowances (RDA). Beta-carotene and vitamin E values were also obtained at the 15 month evaluation for future analysis. The results demonstrated significant changes in iron and cholesterol. Females had an increase in iron intake between the three month evaluation and 15 month re-evaluation as indicated by the Scheffe comparison (value >5.074), with females averaging 14.232 mg (SD=8.35) at three months and 24.277 mg (SD =16.967) at 15 months. Iron intake did not change significantly in males. However, males demonstrated an increase in cholesterol intake between the three month and 15 month evaluation, with a mean value of233.167 g (SD=115.664) at 3 months and 428.667 g (SD=338.275) at 15 months. Females did not show a similar change in cholesterol. Psychological stress was determined through administration of the Hassles and Uplifts scale. There were no statistically significant changes over the 18 month evaluation for psychological hassles and/or uplifts. The results indicated a trend toward increased percent body fat and cholesterol among males in this population over the 18 month evaluation of this graduate program, as well as an increase in VO2max levels among female students.


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