Purpose: The offering of pro bono services has been a historical practice in a number of professions including law and medicine. Medical literature suggests pro bono services provide a vital safety net for individuals who are underinsured or uninsured. Medical students commonly participate in pro bono services, however, little is known about doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student involvement. The purpose of this study was to conduct a survey of physical therapy (PT) programs accredited or in candidacy in the United States to determine the prevalence and characteristics of pro bono services involving DPT students. Method: A 30-item electronic survey was sent to 101 individuals representing accredited or in candidacy PT programs thought to be involved with students in the delivery of PT pro bono services. Data were analyzed using SPSS. Frequency counts and percentages were used to describe prevalence and characteristics of current pro bono services. Results: The response rate was 71.3% with 72 unique institutions completing the survey. Sixty-six institutions reported student involvement in pro bono services and an additional five with plans to start services in the future. The survey yielded data related to institution demographics, general pro bono service characteristics, clinic operations, student leadership, interprofessional interactions and curricular links. Conclusions: Pro bono services involving DPT students are on the rise and the literature points to the importance of PT pro bono services as a rehabilitative safety net and as a creative pedagogy for student professional development. Provision of PT pro bono services may promote public awareness of PT while serving as a catalyst to actualize altruism and social responsibility Core Value expression in DPT students.

Author Bio(s)

Catherine E. Crandell, PT, DPT, MDiv, is Associate Professor and Director of Service-Learning Clinics, Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Bellarmine University.

Jill D. Black, PT, DPT, EdD, is Associate Dean and Program Director, Institute for Physical Therapy Education at Widener University.

Robin L. Dole, PT, DPT, EdD, PCS, is Dean, School of Human Services Professions and Professor of Physical Therapy, Institute for Physical Therapy Education at Widener University.

Kerstin M. Palombaro, PT, PhD, CAPS, is Associate Professor and Community Engagement Coordinator, Institute for Physical Therapy Education at Widener University.



MASKED IJAHSP Figure 1_6.26.19.docx (74 kB)
Figure 1. Study Recruitment Strategy

UNMASKED IJAHSP Figure 1.docx (69 kB)
Figure 1. Study Recruitment Strategy

Submission Location


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