Date on Honors Thesis

Spring 5-1-2020


Exercise Science

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Amelia Dodd, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Jessica Naber, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Priscilla Maghrabi, Committee Member


Context: Unhealthy lifestyle habits are a significant risk factor for chronic disease and death in the United States of America. The healthcare system is largely focused on symptom-management and disease treatment with seemingly little regard for prevention, but physical therapists are particularly well-placed to improve patients’ health through lifestyle counseling and modification. Objectives: To assess the current state of holistic health promotion among physical therapists and to identify barriers to improving these practices. Design: An electronic survey was completed by physical therapists in and around the state of Kentucky. Descriptive statistics were used to assess participant demographics and the state of current practices. Chi-square analyses were used to assess the associations between demographic variables, current practices, barriers, and likelihoods of future practice. Results: Topics covered by participating physical therapists most frequently included physical activity (54.5% always, 45.5% often, n=11 total participants) and cigarette/tobacco use (36.4% always, 54.5% often). Therapists were least likely to discuss dietary habits (45.5% often). The barrier most frequently identified was a lack of time (affecting 45.5% of participants). Other identified barriers included a lack of knowledge (27.3%), a fear of negative patient perception (27.3%), and the belief that holistic health interventions were out of the scope of practice of a physical therapist (18.2%). Conclusions: Physical therapists are currently practicing holistic patient care and health promotion, but results revealed the need for improvements. Physical therapists should work to align their practices with the growing societal needs for preventative healthcare and lifestyle modifications. Modifications and additions to degree-level education and continuing education as well as supplemental material assistance and organizational changes are recommended to prompt and support these needed improvements in the physical therapy profession.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.