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Dance as a therapeutic intervention : physical therapists' beliefs and practices Konnyu, Kristin Julianna


Background: Activity and exercise that are sustainable are essential for maximizing their long-term health and therapeutic benefits. Physical therapists (PTs), as clinical exercise specialists, are committed to the exploitation of these benefits. Dance is often perceived as social and enjoyable, both potentially motivating factors that could contribute to its being such a sustained activity. Purpose: To describe the beliefs and practices of PTs regarding the use of dance as a therapeutic intervention for individuals at risk of or experiencing one or more chronic lifestyle conditions. A secondary aim was to establish an appropriate estimate of statistical power and effect size for subsequent survey or intervention studies. Design: Descriptive study based on a self-administered questionnaire. Subjects and Methods: A 5-page survey questionnaire, comprised of 67 items was developed and pre-tested prior to distribution to 231 PTs (with an anticipated response rate of 40%). Public and private practitioners were randomly sampled from the 2008 list of registered PTs in British Columbia. The randomized population was contacted up to five times according to Dillman’s method. Results: The survey resulted in 136 returned questionnaires (124 returned by respondents, 12 returned undeliverable) resulting in a response rate of 57%. Respondents expressed moderate to high agreement that dance could positively impact clients’ physiological and psychological states. Although most respondents did not prescribe dance, they expressed interest in doing so. Finally, the majority of respondents were amenable to the inclusion of dance in physical therapy practice, professional development education, and research. Rather than inclusion in entry-level education however, most respondents believed dance should be a post-graduate education topic. Discussion and Conclusion: We believe that this is the first study designed to examine the beliefs and practices of PTs with respect to use of dance as a therapeutic intervention. PTs appear responsive to recommending dance as an activity alternative, and are interested in learning more about its use as a therapeutic intervention and/or health promotion activity. Notably, dancing’s perceived social and enjoyable features were cited by PTs as potential facilitating factors that could sustain long-term participation and corresponding health benefits.

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