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:

Physical therapists have acquired the skills and knowledge to discuss and advise patients about personal health behaviors (PHB). Research has shown that PTs believe it is their role to discuss PHBs with patients yet there are barriers which keep them from doing so consistently. There is a lack of evidence regarding what patients believe physical therapists’ role is in regards to health promotion. The purpose of this study was to determine if patients believe that PTs should advise them on PHBs.


Three outpatient PT clinics received 100 surveys to distribute to patients who met the inclusion criteria. Participants responded to questions about 4 PHBs; physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, smoking and healthy weight; their stage of change for each behavior and their belief about the role of PTs was recorded for each health behavior.


One hundred surveys were analyzed using SPSS. The majority of the respondents agreed that PTs should advise them on PA levels (88.0%). Most respondents (70.7%) reported that their PT discussed physical activity (PA) with them. Few respondents (4.0%) stated their PT discussed fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption with them. Some (28.3%) of the respondents believed PTs should advise them on F&V ii

consumption; however, 54.5% were neutral on this subject. One tenth (10.4%) of the respondents were smokers and 9.1% of them reported their PT discussed smoking cessation with them. Self determined body mass index fell in the overweight category for 46.9% respondents; only 8.1% reporting their PTs discussed maintaining a healthy weight. The majority of respondents (75.8%) believed that PTs should advise patients about maintaining a healthy weight. Based on their determined stage of change, 58.1% of participants were engagers in physical activity, 58.4% for fruits and vegetables consumption, 91.8% engaged in smoking cessation and 54.1% for maintaining a healthy weight.


A discrepancy was found between the percent of patients who reported their physical therapist addressed their PHBs and the percent of patients who believed their PT should advise them about PHBs. The study results suggest that patients may be expecting and open to their physical therapist discussing PHBs during their PT sessions.