Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Research Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

MarySue Ingman


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The American Physical Therapy Association(APTA) Vision 2020 established a goal which states that physical therapists (PTs) will be recognized as providers of health promotion, wellness, and risk reduction programs. It is clear that health promotion is important in physical therapy, but it is unclear if PTs are promoting health and how they are completing these tasks. The purposes of this study were to identify PTs’ knowledge, beliefs, and practices in promoting healthy behaviors(HBs) and assessing general fitness (GF) and to examine barriers and facilitators PTs face when addressing HBs and assessing GF. HBs examined were promoting physica lactivity, abstaining from tobacco, maintaining healthy weight/BMI, and managing stress.GF categories included body composition, aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional descriptive study utilizing an on-line survey. The survey was e-mailed to 1,118 Minnesota APTA members and consisted of four main sections: demographics, health promotion, general fitness, and knowledge questions.

RESULTS: The response rate was 21% (n=234). Respondents agreed (90%) that PTs have a role in preventing chronic disease by promoting HBs.Beliefs and practices differed for the four HBs: physical activity (100% vs. 99.0%),maintaining healthy weight/BMI (96.6% vs. 81.0%), stress management (88.7% vs.74.0%), and abstaining from tobacco (87.2% vs. 74.0%). An analysis of the HB of maintaining healthy weight/BMI exposed differences between the following groups ofPTs: PTs without DPT, PTs licensed greater than 10 years, and PTs who practiced in non-outpatient setting. Respondents also agree (85%) that PTs have a role in fitness testing, although there is a large discrepancy in what respondents believe vs. what they practice. PTs identified time as the most challenging barrier to addressing HBs and assessing fitness. Patient/client interest was identified as the most beneficial facilitator to addressing HBs and education as the most benefcial facilitator to assessing fitness. More than 50% of the respondents incorrectly answered questions regarding activity recommendations for older adults and children. CONCLUSION: Results show a difference between PTs’ beliefs and practices in the promotion of four HBs. Although PTs reported numerous barriers, most believe that PTs have a role in preventing chronic disease. PTs’ knowledge demonstrated preparedness to promote HBs, however, PTs are not consistently addressing HBs with patients/clients. Further efforts need to be made to increase PT knowledge of activity recommendations.