Attitudes of physical therapy students toward the population currently experiencing homelessness

Michael A. Geelhoed, Suzanne M. Callaway, Jessica M. Cruz, Sandeep K. Subramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Homelessness is a national epidemic and individuals experiencing homelessness have decreased access to healthcare services. At the same time, physical therapy (PT) educational programs are required to teach students about cultural competence, pro-bono service, and advocacy for underserved populations. Having PT students provide pro-bono services to this population in a supervised environment is a mutually beneficial scenario for the patients, students, and the PT program. AIMS: The study objective was to evaluate whether participating in a student-run free clinic (SRFC) at a homeless shelter could change PT students’ attitudes towards individuals experiencing homelessness. METHODS: Forty DPT students completed the Health Professionals’ Attitude Toward the Homeless Inventory (HPATHI) with 19 volunteering (experimental group) to participate in the SRFC. The HPATHI was administered again immediately following participation in the SRFC to assess if their attitudes had changed. RESULTS: Baseline scores differed between the control and experimental group (p=0.03). However, post-scores of the experimental group did not differ compared to pre-scores. The subsequent analysis estimated differences on 4 of 19 questions, specifically within the personal advocacy and social advocacy subscales. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, PT students’ attitudes did not change significantly after one session of volunteering at an SRFC in a homeless shelter. However, small changes were seen in personal and social advocacy subscales of the HPATHI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-225
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Allied Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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