Moral Reasoning Skills of Physical Therapy Students from Five Upper-Midwest Programs

Purpose/Hypothesis : The Defining Issues Test, Version-2 (DIT-2) determines factors which influence moral reasoning when an individual is confronted with an ethical situation. Three schemas are identified: Personal Interest, Maintaining Norms, and Postconventional. The latter schema, the highest level of development, is an appeal to moral ideals; it is measured by P and N2 scores. Nationally, graduate students and professionals have demonstrated P and N2 scores ranging from ~38 to ~45. The purposes of this study are to examine DIT-2 scores of physical therapy (PT) students in the upper Midwest, and to analyze differences in studentsÕ skills between times, between programs, and between demographics.Number of Subjects : First and third year students from 5 PT programs in the upper Midwest participated, for a total of 489 responses.Materials/Methods : The DIT-2 was administered over a 1 year time period by faculty within each program using a standardized procedure. Year 1 students were tested as they entered a program. Year 3 students were tested at the end of didactic coursework (Time 1) and just prior to graduation (Time 2). Tests were returned to the investigators and scored by the Center for the Study of Ethical Development. Descriptive and analytical statistics used parametric and non-parametric methods; alpha = .05. Bonferroni adjustments were made on post hoc analyses.Results : Mean scores: Year 1 (n = 184): P = 38 ± 13 and N2 = 38 ± 13. Year 3 Time 1 (n = 148): P = 38 ± 16 and N2 = 38 ± 15. Year 3 Time 2 (n = 156): P = 36 ± 16 and N2 = 38 ± 14. P scores and N2 scores were similar between the 3 test times (p > .05). There were differences in both scores between schools (F (4, 473) = 5.650, p < .001, ?2 = .046, and F (4, 473) = 7.618, p < .001, ?2 = .061). Students from Program A scored 8 to 11 points lower on P scores than 3 other schools (p < .005) and 9 to 12 points lower on N2 scores than 2 other schools (p < .005). Scores were similar between students from public and private universities (p > .05). Males scored 5 and 6 points lower than females on P and N2 scores, respectively (p < .05). Scores from students who identified themselves as liberal were 7 to 8 points higher than students who identified themselves as neutral or conservative in their political choices (p < .001).Conclusions : DIT-2 scores were not different between program years or between times of measurement in Year 3. Students from 4 programs demonstrated similar P and N2 scores; students from a 5th program scored lower. Scores differed between genders and political preferences. Overall means were similar to the lowest means from the national data base.Clinical Relevance : If, as faculty, our goal is to improve studentsÕ moral reasoning as a result of PT professional education, we are not meeting the goal. In this study, DIT-2 scores were equivalent during the course of the programs. Based on current research, we need to change our methods of teaching.

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  • Control #: 1725695
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2014
  • Authors: Renee L. Mabey, Maren Kludt, Jessica R. Plummer, Meridee Danks
  • Keywords: DIT-2|moral reasoning|physical therapy

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