Background and Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the level of knowledge the public, specifically members of fitness centers, had about services offered by physical therapists. The two proposed hypotheses of this study relate to the knowledge of physical therapy by members of fitness centers based on services offered at the fitness centers and the respondent's experience with physical therapy.
Methods: A descriptive survey was distributed to members of four different fitness centers in the Beaverton and Hillsboro area near Portland, Oregon. The facilities were selected as distribution sites based on the variety of services offered. The survey was broken down into 3 sections consisting of demographic questions, true/false questions addressing knowledge of physical therapy and questions regarding respondents' experiences with physical therapy or chiropractic medicine.
Results: Surveys were collected from a total of 433 respondents. General demographics of the population showed a mean age of 41.66,51.3% female, 83% Caucasian, 57.5% married and 96% medically insured. Notably, 70.9% of respondents marked false for "Physical therapists treat people for bladder control problems." In regards to practice settings, 47.9% of those surveyed did not think that physical therapists work with children in the school setting. With respect to education, 39.8% thought physical therapists had the same training as athletic trainers.
Conclusion and Discussion: The results of our study indicate that our sample was knowledgeable about physical therapy with an overall score of7.04 ( SD = ± 0.087 ) out of 10 possible points. We concluded that there is a statistically significant difference in scores between the distinct facilities, although the reason for this cannot be identified. People's experiences with physical therapy did not appear to affect scores. Further studies should look more in-depth at public's knowledge of physical therapy, specific marketing tools and effectiveness of promotion of the physical therapy profession within the state of Oregon and nationwide.
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