Young Adult Perceptions of the Leaders in Healthcare Promotion and Preventative Care Dylan Foss, SPT; Matthew Jenkins, SPT; Derek Kelton, SPT; Morgan Toensing, SPT Faculty Mentor: Catherine Thompson, PT, Ph.D.; Christina Wisdom, PT, DPT, OCS, CLT
Purpose/Hypothesis: Health promotion, increasingly important in healthcare, encourages individuals to control and improve their health. Focusing beyond individual behaviors, health promotion encompasses a wide range of social and environmental interventions and can be broken down into several categories including physical activity/exercise, nutrition, weight, stress, smoking cessation, alcohol use, and injury prevention. The purpose of this study was to explore young adults’ perceptions of leaders in health promotion and preventive care in the United States.
Subjects: 133 adults, 18-30 years old
Methods: An email with an online survey link was distributed to universities, colleges and trade schools and via Facebook and Twitter, asking recipients to forward/respond. The 27-item survey inquired about demographics, exposure to 21 different healthcare professionals, and perceived areas of knowledge and leadership of healthcare professionals related to areas of health promotion and preventative care.
Results: Respondents (mean age = 21.5 years; 72.7% female, 27.3% male) ranged in highest education level: bachelor’s degree (41.7%), high school diploma (43.9%), associate’s degree (6.8%), and other (6.1%). Reported exposure to professionals were: medical doctors (MD) (91% of respondents), dentists (89.5%), pharmacists (75.2%), nurses (75.2%), physical therapists (PT) (69.9%).
MDs (76.6%) were perceived as being most qualified as the overall leader in health promotion/preventative care, followed by PTs (51.6%) and nurse practitioners (39.1%).
Professionals considered as the leader in specific areas of health promotion (highest % of respondents ranking profession as the leader): • PT: body mechanics (50.0%), movement (46.9%), exercise/physical activity (36.5%), muscle pain (31.4%) • Psychologist: stress management (50%), depression (46.0%), addiction (41.2%), alcoholism (40.9%) • MD: sleep (33.9%), smoking (33.3%) • RD: nutrition (88.2%), weight loss (30.8%) • ATC: injury prevention (47.2%)
Perceptions of the professions considered the leaders in components of health promotion corresponded with whom they perceived as the most knowledgeable in that area, with the exception of injury prevention, in which PTs were considered the most knowledgeable.
Conclusion: Respondents ranked MDs and PTs as leaders in health promotion and preventative care, commensurate with their knowledge. When looking individually at exercise/physical activity, muscle pain, body mechanics, and movement, PTs are considered to be the most knowledgeable and the leader in health promotion and preventative care. While these results suggest that PTs are considered leaders in some areas of health promotion, these perceptions do not indicate a strong awareness of PTs entire knowledge-base and ability to help society improve health and prevent the need for costly, avoidable health care services. These results offer some insight for potential marketing of physical therapy’s role in health promotion and preventive care.