Enabling or disabling? Students' attitudes toward persons with disabilities

Am J Occup Ther. 1991 Apr;45(4):311-6. doi: 10.5014/ajot.45.4.311.


Persons with disabilities are devalued by society. Occupational therapists may be contributing to this devaluation through their attitudes. This study focused on the attitudes of undergraduate students. From a sample of 223 occupational therapy students and 326 business students at an Australian university, it was found, with the use of the Attitudes Toward Disabled Persons Scale-Form A (Yuker, Block, & Young, 1966), that the attitudes of freshman occupational therapy students did not differ significantly from those of their business-major peers. Furthermore, the occupational therapy students' attitudes did not vary with the years of undergraduate education completed. However, those students who had had contact with persons with disabilities beyond the context of a caregiver-care receiver relationship (i.e., those students who had assumed roles that emphasized valued attributes of the person with a disability) had significantly more positive attitudes than did those students without such contact. Educational curricula must address the issue of students' attitudes and, in particular, the facilitation of valued social role contact with persons with disabilities.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Australia
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy / education*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Role
  • Social Values
  • Socialization
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities