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April is Minority Health Month, and PTJ: Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Journal can connect you with some of the latest research on the intersections between minority health, health disparities, and the physical therapy community.

PTJ offers multiple published articles related to minority health, and is gathering content for an upcoming special issue focused specifically on health disparities, several of which are already available through PTJ Advance, the journal's platform for accepted-but-not-final versions of articles. PTJ's entire contents are available for free as an APTA member benefit.

Here are four examples of what PTJ has to offer:

Understanding Differences in Pain Experience in Terms of Race, Ethnicity, and Cultural Background

In this study slated to be included in the upcoming PTJ special issue, 274 participants with chronic spinal pain in outpatient physical therapy clinics were assessed at baseline, two weeks, and 12 weeks to gauge pain catastrophizing and self-efficacy, and potential relationships to race. Authors found what they describe as "differential impacts" on pain intensity, writing that "improved understanding of the differences in pain experiences based on factors such as race, ethnicity, cultural background, and experience with the health care system may help reduce disparities in pain management." Read the article.

Uncovering Disparities in Physical Therapy Use Between Black and White Patients With MSK Pain

This 2022 study analyzed electronic health records of more than 52,000 individuals throughout the U.S. to gain a better understanding of the differences in both the use of and delays in access to physical therapy among Black and white patients. Among the findings: "White patients were 57% more likely…to receive physical therapy compared with Black patients, and had a significantly shorter time to physical therapy than Black patients." Read the article.

Identifying Clinical Subgroups Among People Who Are Hispanic/Latino With Chronic Low Back Pain

Published earlier this year in PTJ's special issue on advances in rehabilitation technology, this analysis used data from an ongoing clinical trial to establish phenotypes for Hispanic/Latino people with chronic low back pain in an effort to shed light on the possibilities for more personalized care. Using wearable sensors, in-person testing, and psychological measures, researchers were able to identify two distinct categories of Hispanic/Latino people with chronic LBP — one distinguished by greater height and weight as well as more sedentary posture and movement; and a second with more women, longer duration of LBP, higher frequency of spine movement, and longer time spent standing. Read the article.

Developing Benchmarks to Improve Physical Therapy Education Experiences for Minoritized Race and Ethnicity Groups

Another article that will be included in the upcoming PTJ special issue, this study explores results of a survey of 5,080 graduating DPT students in 89 programs using the Physical Therapy Graduation Questionnaire. Researchers focused on differences in responses between racial and ethnic minoritized groups, or REMs, and their non-REM peers. They found that in general, REM respondents tended to express lower levels of satisfaction with their education and lower levels of confidence in their readiness for practice compared with the non-REM respondents. The REM respondents also reported higher rates of mistreatment, exhaustion, and disengagement, but greater empathy and higher levels of interest in working in underserved communities. Authors believe that the results of this study can help programs adopt changes that could improve education experiences for REMs, writing that "learning environments that permit all individuals to thrive may be an essential avenue to improve the health of a rapidly diversifying society." Read the study.

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