Department of Physical Therapy Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Physical Therapy (MPT)

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College of Health Care Sciences - Physical Therapy Department

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


Purpose: To identify factors about physical therapy students that influence their decisions to work with elderly patients.

Subjects: 173 second year physical therapy students from Nova Southeastern University, University of Miami, Barry University, and Florida International University.

Methodology: A questionnaire designed by Coren et al was given to 261 second year physical therapy students. Chi-square analyses at an alpha level of .01, frequency distributions, a 2-tailed t-test, and cross-tabulations were performed.

Results: Three attitudinal factors proved to be statistically significant in influencing students' intent to work with elderly patients. They were the beliefs that the length of time necessary to reach goals would be frustrating (p = .006), that most elderly people have some type of chronic pathological condition (p = .0001). The only experiential factor that proved to be statistically significant was if the student had ever had a job that entailed providing a service for elderly people (p = .0001). Age of the respondents was also significant with a p value of .01.

Conclusion: Attitudinal factors have the most impact upon one's decision to work with elderly patients. In order for experience and education to play a bigger role, physical therapy schools must be aware that students need access to medical information concerning elderly people in order to foster positive attitudes towards the geriatric population.


Physical Therapy

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