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Improvements in Students' Attitudes Toward People With Disabilities With or Without Semi-Structured Community-Based Interactions

Jimenez, Liliana PT, DPT; Pechak, Celia PT, PhD, MPH; Garrand, Kiersten PT, DPT

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: September 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 185–190
doi: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000102
RESEARCH REPORT
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Introduction. Repeated interactions with people with disabilities (PWD) in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program could improve students' attitudes toward PWD. This study's purposes were to explore if: 1) a baseline first-year DPT curriculum improved DPT students' attitudes toward PWD; 2) an enhanced first-year DPT curriculum improved DPT students' attitudes toward PWD; and 3) there was a difference between the baseline and the enhanced DPT curriculum related to improving DPT students' attitudes toward PWD.

Methods. Sixty-four students from 2 DPT cohorts participated in this study. The Attitudes Toward Disabled People (ATDP-A) and Multidimensional Attitudes Scale Toward Persons with Disabilities (MAS) were used. The authors compared the scores of 2 DPT cohorts: 1) a baseline group; and 2) an enhanced curriculum group that had repeated community-based interactions with PWD.

Results. The baseline group only had improved attitudes according to the MAS (P = .02), whereas the enhanced group demonstrated improvements with bothATDP-A (P = .01) and MAS (P = .01). No significant difference in scores on the ATDP-A (P = .11) and MAS (P = .38) between the baseline and the enhanced curriculum cohort was found.

Discussion and Conclusion. Regardless of being exposed to the baseline or the enhanced curriculum, DPT students' attitudes toward PWD improved. The baseline group showed improvements according to 1 scale, whereas the enhanced group demonstrated improvements with both scales. Perhaps longer or more frequent interactions with PWD may have produced a difference between the baseline and enhanced groups. Although future research is necessary, this study offers ideas on how to incorporate community-based interactions with PWD in a DPT curriculum.

Liliana Jimenez is a physical therapist in El Paso, Texas (ljimenezr8@gmail.com). Please address all correspondence to Liliana Jimenez.

Celia Pechak is an associate professor in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Kiersten Garrand is an adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.aptaeducation.org).

Received December 04, 2017

Received in revised form December 18, 2018

Accepted January 21, 2019

Copyright 2019 © Academy of Physical Theraphy Education
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