Physical therapy (PT) has traditionally been a hands-on, tertiary-care field. Although the American Physical Therapy Association has mandated a broader perspective, little primary prevention is yet being reported in the U. S. An attitude change toward prevention must occur if physical therapists can be expected to become involved in preventive physical therapy. The purpose of this project was to determine predictors of physical therapy student intention to perform primary prevention with a questionnaire based on Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior. The theory uses attitude, subjective norm and perceived control to predict intention based on beliefs and strength of beliefs in each of the three areas. Five successive masters classes (juniors, seniors, masters, graduates, and advanced masters) in Loma Linda University's 3-year physical therapy program were tested (n=266). The classes showed no significant differences in intention to perform preventive physical therapy. Attitude, subjective norm and perceived control did significantly predict students' intention to do preventive physical therapy. Hierarchical multiple regression produced unclear results with high variable intercorrelations and several negative betas, so factor analysis was used to group these variables into factors which represented the respondents' predictor beliefs. Multiple regression and factor analysis determined five separate factors which contained variables predicting intention to perform physical therapy primary prevention. Predictors of a positive attitude toward prevention involved Professional and Social Benefits (create new opportunities and market physical therapy, lead to a healthier society etc.), Patient Benefits (fewer acute injuries, prevent PT problems etc.), and Physical Therapy Practice (do research on prevention, present information to large groups etc.). Negative Outcomes (less jobs, less time, no pay) was not a predictor. The single significant subjective norm predictor involved People (your family, patients' families, schools etc.). Unpredictable Groups (physicians, insurance companies etc.) and Authority (employers, government) were not significant predictors. For perceived control, the significant factor was availability of necessary Educational Resources (understanding the target group, advertising, personal skills etc). Funding (insurance, HMO's, government) and Health Professional Support (other health professionals, PT's, MB's) did not predict intentions.

This information can be used as a basis for raising awareness and planning physical therapy curricula for physical therapy education in order to increase primary prevention activities for improved healthcare.


Physical Therapy


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Christine M. Neish

Second Advisor

Joyce W. Hopp

Third Advisor

Jerry W. Lee

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Physical Therapy; Primary Prevention; Students, Physical Therapy



Page Count

xi: 94

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives