Purpose: Interprofessional collaboration in health care is believed to enhance patient outcomes. However, where professions have overlapping scopes of practice (eg, chiropractors and physical therapists), ”turf wars”can hinder effective collaboration. Deep-rooted beliefs, identified as implicit attitudes, provide a potential explanation. Even with positive explicit attitudes toward a social group, negative stereotypes may be influential. Previous studies on interprofessional attitudes have mostly used qualitative research methodologies. This study used quantitative methods to evaluate explicit and implicit attitudes of physical therapy students toward chiropractic.
Methods: A paper-and-pencil instrument was developed and administered to 49 individuals (students and faculty) associated with a Canadian University master’s entry-level physical therapy program after approval by the Research Ethics Board. The instrument evaluated explicit and implicit attitudes toward the chiropractic profession. Implicit attitudes were determined by comparing response times of chiropractic paired with positive versus negative descriptors.
Results: Mean time to complete a word association task was significantly longer (t D 4.75, p D .00) when chiropractic was associated with positive rather than negative words. Explicit and implicit attitudes were not correlated (r D 0.13, p D .38).
Conclusions: While little explicit bias existed, individuals associated with a master’s entry-level physical therapy program appeared to have a significant negative implicit bias toward chiropractic.
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