Effect of Adding a Wheelchair Immersion Program to a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clerkship on Emotions, Behavior, and Attitude: A Prospective Pilot Study

Shelly Hsieh, Jayne Donovan, Denise Fyffe, Ondrea McKay, Steven Kirshblum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

People with disabilities encounter significant barriers in health care and report that healthcare providers often lack an understanding in caring for them. Currently, there is limited disability awareness training in medical school curricula. This mixed-methods pilot study examined the effects of integrating a short wheelchair immersion program in a physical medicine and rehabilitation clerkship, versus the clerkship alone, on attitudes toward people with disabilities, comfort in treating people with disabilities, knowledge of wheelchair etiquette, and understanding of wheelchair-associated challenges. The standard training group underwent the physical medicine and rehabilitation clerkship, consisting of a 2-wk clinical rotation and didactic program. The intervention group additionally underwent a newly developed 1-hr wheelchair program where they simulated mobility and some activities of daily living as a “wheelchair user” and “caregiver.” Quantitative analysis demonstrated that all students who completed the clerkship had significantly improved attitudes toward and comfort in treating people with disabilities, knowledge of wheelchair etiquette, and understanding of wheelchair-associated challenges, whereas students in the wheelchair immersion program had a greater change in understanding wheelchair-associated challenges. Qualitative analysis revealed that the intervention resulted in positive attitudinal changes. These findings suggest that integrating a brief wheelchair immersion program with a physical medicine and rehabilitation clerkship may enhance disability awareness training in medical school curricula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-788
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Volume101
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Disability Studies
  • Medical Education
  • Simulation Training
  • Wheelchair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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