Raising the Priority of Lifestyle-Related Noncommunicable Diseases in Physical Therapy Curricula

Given their enormous socioeconomic burdens, lifestyle-related noncommunicable diseases (heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and obesity) have become priorities for the World Health Organization and health service delivery systems. Health care systems have been criticized for relative inattention to the gap between knowledge and practice, as it relates to preventing and managing noncommunicable diseases. Physical therapy is a profession that can contribute effectively to patients’/clients’ lifestyle behavior changes at the upstream end of prevention and management. Efforts by entry-to-practice physical therapist education programs to align curricula with epidemiological trends toward best health care practices are varied. One explanation may be the lack of a frame of reference for reducing the knowledge translation gap. The purpose of this article is to provide a current perspective on epidemiological indicators and societal priorities to inform physical therapy curriculum content. Such content needs to include health examination/evaluation tools and health behavior change interventions that are consistent with contemporary values, directions, and practices of physical therapy.

Full story on lifestyle-related noncommunicable diseases at APTA