Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Tracey Gendron

Second Advisor

James Cotter


The study aimed to assess the relationship of specific demographic characteristics of occupational (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) with their knowledge and attitudes towards principles of Person-Centered Care (PCC) in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The study further examined if knowledge and/or attitudinal differences exist between OTs and PTs towards PCC. The proposed descriptive study used the Person-Centered Care theory, which is a holistic (bio-psychosocial-spiritual) health care delivery approach. PCC delivers services that are respectful and individualized, allowing negotiation of care, and offering choice through a therapeutic relationship where persons receiving care are empowered to be involved in health decisions at whatever level they desire.

To fulfill the specific aims, the study explored the concepts of PCC in the occupational and physical therapy fields in SNFs. This exploration process guided the development of the

unique theoretical model of PCC in OT and PT practice. Specific attributes of therapists were investigated to assess any correlations with therapists’ knowledge and attitudes towards PCC. These attributes included educational achievement, clinical experience, additional educational training and clinical experience in gerontology/ geriatric care, and therapists’ type (OT versus PT).

Using non-probability methods of data collection, this co-relational and cross-sectional study recruited a convenience sample of 77 OTs and 66 PTs (N=143) working in SNFs. The study was a one-time web-based survey design utilizing three separate questionnaires for data collection including the Professional Characteristics Questionnaire, the Knowledge of Person-centeredness of Therapist Scale, and the Attitude of Person-centeredness of Therapist Scale. The reliability and validity of the study instruments were established by an expert penal (which included two faculty members of the Department of Gerontology, VCU, and one physical therapist) and pilot data collection.

Descriptive statistics, correlation statistics, multiple regression analysis, followed by posthoc analysis were used to examine the relationship between predictors (therapist type, educational and clinical experience of therapists) and outcome variables (knowledge and attitude of therapists towards PCC). A sequential multiple regression analysis was used to narrow down the best predictor(s) of therapists’ demographic characteristics to influence their knowledge and attitude towards PCC. This was followed by moderation analysis using geriatric training and clinical experience in SNFs as moderator variables.

The outcome of the study is helpful for clinical and academic educators to enhance geriatric pedagogy in the OT and PT professions. The study also contributes to narrowing the theory-practice gap regarding the scope of practice of PCC in the OT and PT professions.


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