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Asst Prof Beth Black publishes study about Personal Health Behaviors

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Asst Prof Beth Black publishes study about Personal Health Behaviors
Assistant Professor Beth Black of the School of Health Sciences led a team of researchers who published a report about Personal Health Behaviors and Role-Modeling Attitudes of Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Students: A Cross-Sectional Study in the November issue of the journal Physical Therapy (Volume 92, Pages 1419-1436). Coauthors include Special Instructor in Physical Therapy Christine Stiller and Assistant Researcher Ronald Gellish, both of the School of Health Sciences, Associate Professor Xianggui (Harvey) Qu, of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and former OU Professor Beth Marcoux, now at the University of Rhode Island. The abstract of the paper is given below.
Background. Physical therapists have been encouraged to engage in health promotion practice. Health professionals who engage in healthy behaviors themselves are more apt to recommend those behaviors, and patients are more motivated to change their behaviors when their health care provider is a credible role model.

Objective. The purpose of this study was to describe the health behaviors and role-modeling attitudes of physical therapists and physical therapist students.

Design. This study was a descriptive cross-sectional survey.

Methods. A national sample of 405 physical therapists and 329 physical therapist students participated in the survey. Participants’ attitudes toward role modeling and behaviors related to physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, abstention from smoking, and maintenance of a healthy weight were measured. Wilcoxon rank sum tests were used to examine differences in attitudes and behaviors between physical therapists and physical therapist students.

Results. A majority of the participants reported that they engage in regular physical activity (80.8%), eat fruits and vegetables (60.3%), do not smoke (99.4%), and maintain a healthy weight (78.7%). Although there were no differences in behaviors, physical therapist students were more likely to believe that role modeling is a powerful teaching tool, physical therapist professionals should “practice what they preach,” physical activity is a desirable behavior, and physical therapist professionals should be role models for nonsmoking and maintaining a healthy weight.

Limitations. Limitations of this study include the potential for response bias and social desirability bias.

Conclusions. Physical therapists and physical therapist students engage in health promoting behaviors at similarly high rates but differ in role-modeling attitudes.
This research was supported by an Oakland University Physical Therapy Program research grant.