Educating students to become culturally competent physical therapists: Issues of teaching and assessment

Lisa Jayroe Barnes, University of Southern Mississippi


With the growing multicultural population within the United States, healthcare providers need to be prepared to care for and educate adult clients from various cultural backgrounds. The purpose of the study was to examine the teaching and assessment methods being used by faculty in the education of future physical therapists in teaching the construct of cultural competence, how these methods may vary according to the educational background of faculty in relation to the use of concepts specific to adult education that may lead to transformational learning, and faculty opinions about teaching and assessing this abstract construct. Survey methodology was used in the study. A questionnaire was distributed to faculty within physical therapy academic programs throughout the United States. Participants were separated into groups by educational background of clinical sciences versus education in order to assess for differences in teaching and assessment methodology, attitudes related to adult learning theory, and opinions related to personal understanding of cultural competence and the ability to teach and assess cultural competence in the educational environment. The results of the study offered an overall picture of academic activities in physical therapy education related to preparing future physical therapy practitioners to be culturally competent healthcare providers.