Recreation Therapists’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Pain

Judy S. KinneyRecreation Therapists’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Pain

ATRA Annual


The purpose of this study was to explore recreation therapists’ (RT) knowledge and attitudes toward pain. A 41-item electronic survey was sent to a randomly selected sample of Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRSs) who were practicing full time. The response rate was 23.9% (n = 1433) with 1296 completed surveys. Seven items from the Knowledge and Attitudes toward Pain Survey (Ferrell & McCaffery, 2014) were used to measure respondents’ knowledge and attitudes toward client pain. Overall knowledge and attitudes scores were fairly high (82.6% correct). However, several items fell below 80% correct, indicating misperceptions. Low-scoring items included young children have decreased pain sensitivity; accuracy of vital signs to assess pain; those who can be distracted are not in severe pain; and patients may sleep in spite of severe pain. Significant differences in knowledge and attitudes toward pain scores were found by level of training in pain management (F(3, 1241) = 4.295, p < .01) and population served (F(7, 1227) = 2.435, p < .05). Although there are limitations due to low response rates, the results indicate there are deficits in CTRSs’ knowledge and attitudes towards pain. Attitudes impact health care professionals’ responses to persons experiencing pain; thus, it is critical that the RT discipline include training in pain management in curricula, continuing education, and daily clinical practice.

Author Judy S. Kinney
Volume Vol. 52, No. 4 (2018)
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