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The Role of Physical Therapists in Pediatric Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention: Comparison of Attitudes

Schlessman, Amy M. PT, DPT, DHS; Martin, Kathy PT, DHS; Ritzline, Pamela D. PT, EdD; Petrosino, Christopher L. PT, PhD

Pediatric Physical Therapy:
doi: 10.1097/PEP.0b013e31820979fb
research report

Purpose: To identify attitudes of teachers, parents, and physical therapists (PTs) toward PTs' roles in health promotion (HP), obesity prevention (OP), and physical activity (PA) for preschoolers.

Methods: Surveys (n = 618) were distributed to preschools and pediatric PTs.

Results: Overall response rate was 42%. Dietitians or physicians were selected as most knowledgeable about HP/OP/PA. Teachers were selected as most appropriate to educate preschoolers, whereas PTs were identified as appropriate to educate parents and teachers about HP/OP/PA. Most respondents were unaware of PTs' involvement in HP/OP/PA.

Conclusions: Physical therapist expertise is underrecognized and underused for pediatric HP/OP/PA. Parents and teachers are open to PT's involvement. Physical therapists need to improve awareness and become involved.

In Brief

After surveying parents, teachers, and PTs, the authors conclude that PT expertise is underrecognized and underutilized for pediatric health promotion and obesity prevention.

Author Information

Kid Dynamics LLC, Maineville, Ohio (Dr Schlessman); Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana (Dr Martin); Department of Physical Therapy, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee (Dr Ritzline); and Department of Physical Therapy and Graduate School, Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio (Dr Petrosino).

Correspondence: Amy M. Schlessman, PT, DPT, DHS, Kid Dynamics LLC, 255 Delaware Dr, Maineville, OH 45039 ().

This work was completed by Dr Schlessman in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Health Science, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.