The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. I. Setting the Stage

The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. I. Setting the Stage

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of anxiety and depression among physical therapy students.

Theoretical Rationale

In this study, the aim was to research the varying anxiety and depression levels of students enrolled in professional physical therapy programs. Physical therapy programs, like medical programs, are academically demanding.  Students enrolled in physical therapy programs are often in class 40 hours a week due to the large number of units required each semester.  Studying and preparing for coursework is then added to an already demanding 40 hours.  Since the degree program in physical therapy is a professional study, students are expected to work independently toward contributing to their own professional development.  Because so many courses are required each semester, the students often have several examinations each week.  These are but a few of the many demands required of physical therapy students that can cause stress, which could then possibly result in anxiety and/or depression.

This study and others like it are instrumental in identifying the need for both anxiety and depression screening, and the concomitant need for intervention for physical therapy students. The prevention of anxiety and depression could reduce the high costs to the economy and the mental suffering associated with anxiety and major depression. There is a lack of research that has been conducted on anxiety and depression levels of students in professional programs other than medical and law school.


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About the Author

Clare LewisClare Lewis graduated from the Professional School of Psychology in 2003 with her doctorate in clinical psychology and in 2005 with her doctorate in organizational psychology. She has been licensed as a clinical psychologist since 2012.  In addition to her psychology degrees, Clare is a licensed physical therapist with an advanced masters in orthopedic manual therapy and an transitional doctorate in physical therapy.  Clare is a certified manual therapist from the Stanley Paris Institute and a fellow of the American Association of Orthopedic and Manual Physical Therapists.  Clare has been a professor in the department of physical therapy at CSU Sacramento since 1996.  She has taught the psychology class and orthopedic class for majors for many years. She practices physical therapy at Remedy Rehab in Sacramento, CA doing orthopedic out-patient manual therapy and volunteers at the suicide hotline for Sacramento County.

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