Social Responsibility and Cultural Competence among Physical Therapists with International Experience

Article excerpt

Background and Purpose. Physical therapists, particularly those involved in educating doctors of physical therapy (DPTs), are often confronted with the following question: What is the educational priority for entry-level students? To become socially responsible professionals? To become culturally competent providers? How is the physical therapy profession maintaining social responsibility and cultural competence as core values of the profession?

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether existing measures of social responsibility and cultural competence capture a potential association between 2 groups of physical therapists with international experiences. The hypothesis was that physical therapists with multiple international experiences would demonstrate a positive relationship between social responsibility and the Inventory for Assessing the Process of Cultural Competence Among Healthcare Professionals-Revised (IAPCC-R) survey tool.

Therefore, potential partnership between educators and physical therapists with multiple international experiences could be possible with instructional technology in the classroom.

Subjects. Purposive sampling consisted of 2 physical therapist groups, a "few international experiences" group (n = 32) and a "multiple international experiences" group (n = 23), retrieved from the American Physical Therapy Association's online member directory.

Methods. Quantitative data, generated by using APTAs Professionalism in Physical Therapy: Core Values Self-Assessment and the IAPCC-R online survey, were collected.

Results. Study outcomes indicated a statistically significant difference in IAPCCR total scores between the 2 groups. Social responsibility was moderately and positively correlated with IAPCC-R (r = .627, P = .001) for the multiple international experiences group.

Discussion and Conclusion. The findings suggest that social responsibility and cultural competence may not be mutually exclusive. Physical therapists with multiple international experiences may help model social responsibility and cultural competence to physical therapist students. Overall, the process of social responsibility and cultural competence is seen as a life-long continuum that should be considered mainstream in the physical therapy profession.

Key Words: Cultural competence, Professionalism, Social responsibility.

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Physical therapists, particularly those involved in educating doctors of physical therapy (DPTs) must consider, "What is the educational priority for the entry-level student?" "Is it to be a culturally competent or socially responsible professional?" Purtilo,1 in her 31st Mary McMillan Lecture in 2000, noted that the task for future physical therapists will be to establish a "period of societal identity" as the moral foundation for a true professional partnering with the larger community of citizens and institutions. She added that cultural competence should be a non-negotiable skill subject to rigorous testing in the physical therapy profession.1 Hence, investigations should be implemented to explore how well the physical therapy profession is achieving Purtilo's challenge to achieve social responsibility and cultural competency as core components of the profession.

The physical therapy profession has established a set of core values and a vision in the past decade. In 2002, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) identified 7 core values of the profession: accountability, altruism, compassion/caring, excellence, integrity, professional duty, and social responsibility.2 APTAs Board of Directors unanimously identified professionalism as the key to achieving Vision 20203 for the profession in 2003. To this end, social responsibility is defined as the promotion of a mutual trust between the physical therapy profession and the larger public that necessitates responding to societal needs for health and wellness. …