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The effects of a three-year professional masters program on the health and well-being of physical therapy students: A longitudinal study

1 May 2001


Purpose: This study investigated the health and well-being of physical therapy students throughout the three years of a professional program. Methods: A convenience sample 11 drawn from the Pacific University Physical Therapy Class of 2001 consisted of seventeen female and two male subjects with a mean age of 26.6 ± 2.1 years. The data from the limited number of male subjects were excluded from analysis due to the potential for confounding the results. Data were collected by administering a treadmill test, a physical activity questionnaire, a Derogatis Stress Profile, and a three-day nutritional record, as well as determining body composition. Results: Significant changes were found over the course of the program in total treadmill time, blood pressure, occupational 'and leisure physical activity, Subjective Stress Score, fiber consumption and body composition. Although a significant change was found in body composition, this was likely due to error. The significant change in blood pressure was likely due to normal fluctuations. Significant changes were also observed in treadmill time, but this is not the strongest indicator of physical fitness. In addition, physical activity and subjective stress scores changed significantly during the intermediate years, but the initial and final values did not show a significant change, indicating that the subjects returned to baseline levels. The most relevant results of this study pertained to student nutrition, with high sodium consumption and increasingly low fiber intake over the course of the program. Conclusion: In general, students' physical and mental health did not change considerably over the course of a three-year graduate physical therapy program


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