Patient Deception in Health Care: Physical Therapy Education, Beliefs, and Attitudes




Curtis, Drew A.
Huang, Han-Hung
Nicks, Kendra L.

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A good professional-patient relationship is important to clinical practice, which may be compromised by deception. Deception research in physical therapy is scant. The current study investigated how the topic of patient deception is addressed in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) educational curriculum, explore DPT students’ beliefs about deception and attitudes toward patient deception, and examine the effects of a pedagogical intervention on DPT students’ beliefs about deception and attitudes toward patient deception. The first objective was pursued by a descriptive survey sent to 217 DPT programs in the US. The second and third objectives were achieved by one-group pretest-posttest design provided to 17 DPT students before and after an educational workshop. Most DPT programs minimally include the topic of patient deception within their curriculum. DPT students held several inaccurate beliefs about the indicators of deception and negative attitudes toward patients who lied. After the educational intervention, students’ inaccurate beliefs were corrected and negative attitudes were reduced. Patient deception seems to be an under-addressed topic in current physical therapy education. An education workshop improved students’ beliefs about deception and attitudes toward to patient deception. Implications of deception research and theory in the applied practice of physical therapy are discussed.




Curtis, D. A., Huang, H.-H., & Nicks, K. L. (2018). Patient deception in health care: Physical therapy education, beliefs, and attitudes. International Journal of Health Sciences Education, 5(1).