Document Type (Journals)
Practicing clinicians must use moral reasoning to solve ethical problems and combat moral distress. Development of moral reasoning in occupational therapy (OT) and physical therapy (PT) students has been significantly under researched. The purpose of this study was to analyze the differences in moral reasoning between first year and second year OT and PT students and between students and OT and PT practitioners. Investigators utilized a cross-sectional study design with a convenience sample of University of Indianapolis OT and PT students and a combination of convenience and snowball sampling to recruit licensed OT and PT practitioners. One hundred and fifty-four participants completed the Defining Issues Test - 2 (DIT-2; Rest et al., 1999) survey. Comparisons of N2 scores using t-tests found no differences between groups in moral reasoning schema (one’s preferred way of approaching moral issues, divided into stratified developmental levels). However, Pearson’s Chi-Square analysis for a comparison of all students to all practitioners for moral reasoning patterns (one’s ability to discriminate between types of moral reasoning schemas when presented with a complex moral dilemma) was significant between students (transitional) and practitioners (consolidated), with the greatest difference between second-year students and practitioners. Continual expansion of ethics content, including interjecting clinical experiences into the classroom, within OT and PT graduate programs may promote moral reasoning pattern development with carryover into practice. Clinical experiences provide real-world opportunities necessary to progress students from transitional to consolidated thinking patterns. To improve ethics education, authors recommend active learning strategies and ethics mentorship throughout clinical experiences.
Brenda S. Howard, DHSc, OTR is Associate Professor and Interim Director, Masters in Occupational Therapy Program, University of Indianapolis, School of Occupational Therapy; she is also the current Chairperson, AOTA Ethics Commission.
Cheyenne Kern, OTD is a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Indianapolis.
Olivia Milliner, OTD is a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Indianapolis.
Lindsey Newhart, OTD is a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Indianapolis.
Sarah K. Burke, OTD is a recent graduate of the University of Indianapolis Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Indianapolis.
Declaration of Interest
This project was awarded the University of Indianapolis Faculty Scholarship Grant on December 1, 2017. This grant provides $4,000.00 to be used toward scholarship and dissemination.
Howard, B. S., Kern, C., Milliner, O., Newhart, L., & Burke, S. K. (2020). Comparing Moral Reasoning across Graduate Occupational and Physical Therapy Students and Practitioners. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 4 (3). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2020.040305
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