Attitudes toward people with disabilities: A comparison between health care professionals and students

King Wai Au, Wai Kwong Man

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to explore the attitudes of health care professionals and their students towards people in Hong Kong with disabilities. The attitudes of four groups of professionals and students (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, social workers and nurses) were assessed using the well-documented Attitude Toward Disabled Persons scale through the methodology of mailed questionnaires. Comparisons were made among different groups of students and professionals in order to gain insight into factors affecting their behavior. In this study, 511 students and 489 professionals were selected randomly. The results indicated that the overall mean Attitude Toward Disabled Persons scale score of the respondents was comparatively lower than that of their counterparts in foreign countries. The professionals had a significantly higher attitudinal score than the students. Among the four disciplines, nurses held the least favorable attitudes towards people with disabilities. In addition, their attitudes were less positive than those of the student nurses. On the other hand, the social work students had less favorable attitudes than the professional social workers, as well as other types of health care students. The analysis of the data also revealed that the mean Attitude Toward Disabled Persons scale scores for both the occupational therapists and occupational therapy students were above the overall average. Unlike the physiotherapists, the mean Attitude Toward Disabled Persons scale score of the physiotherapy students was below the overall average. In addition, age, year of study, educational level, knowledge and contact with people with disabilities were significant factors in the attitudes held by the students and professional respondents. The quality of the contact was found to be a dominant factor in affecting the scores on attitude. Thus, recommendations were made to modify the current training curriculum and enhance the quality of services to develop more favorable attitudes towards people with disabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Rehabilitation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006


  • Attitude
  • Comparison
  • Disability
  • Professional
  • Students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Professions(all)

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