curriculum, older adult, physical therapy, spirituality



  1. Pitts, Janice PT, PhD


For the purpose of this study, spirituality is defined as the individuals' view of relating to something greater than self. It refers to anything that gives meaning, wholeness, and direction of life. The physical therapy profession currently does not require the integration of spirituality in patient care in the physical therapy curriculum, and it is unclear how physical therapy faculty and practitioners view its inclusion. There is limited research on the integration of spirituality in the field of physical therapy or within its academic environment. The study utilized standard survey research methodology to gather data relating to spirituality and its inclusion in a physical therapy curriculum. Five participants from each of 101 sampled programs received a survey instrument along with instructions and consent form disseminated through electronic mailing. There was a response rate of 32.8% (166 respondents). Data were analyzed on 166 respondents using descriptive and inferential statistics. Approximately half (49.0%) of the respondents indicated that their physical therapy programs included spirituality concepts. More than half of the respondents (56.0%) also indicated that they believed that spirituality concepts should be included in physical therapy education and that every physical therapy program should include it in its curriculum. Response patterns indicated that respondents felt that spirituality concepts should be integrated into the physical therapy curriculum rather than having specific courses focused on spirituality. It is possible that by the inclusion of spirituality in a physical therapy intervention, the older adult may have an increased potential of recovering from his or her injury. This will also decrease a potential barrier to the elderly patient in receiving physical therapy interventions.