Perceived maternal knowledge and attitudes toward physical therapy during early intervention in two ethnic groups

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

John H. Croghan - Committee Chair


Physical therapists in early intervention programs are involved with children and families from many different cultures. This study explored whether there were differences in perceived maternal knowledge and attitudes toward physical therapy in Cuban Americans and African Americans in Miami.Surveys were sent to 170 families who received physical therapy services at Easter Seal of Dade County, United Cerebral Palsy of Dade County, and the University of Miami Debbie School. From 120 surveys which were returned, 31 were Cuban American and 33 were African American. Ten randomly selected mothers from each group were personally interviewed. Open-ended questions in the survey and interview questions were analyzed using qualitative research methods.The t-test revealed statistically significant differences at the.05 level between the two groups for six questions. Those six questions which were identified by individual t-tests for independent groups as statistically significant were the same questions which approached significance using the MANOVA. The findings indicated that Cuban Americans perceived greater understanding of the purpose of physical therapy, physical therapy treatment, and the use of adaptive equipment in school and at home as compared with African Americans. Cuban Americans also desired greater control in planning their children's physical therapy, but African Americans were more satisfied with physical therapists responses to their suggestions. These quantitative differences were substantiated by qualitative findings from the open-ended survey questions and personal interviews. Cultural factors appeared to influence the differences in responses between the two groups. These results indicated that physical therapists must be aware of their own culture as well as their clients' culture in order to provide culturally competent family-centered services.


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural; Health Sciences, Rehabilitation and Therapy

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