Date of Award

8-11-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Respiratory Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. Lynda T. Goodfellow

Second Advisor

Ralph D. Zimmerman

Third Advisor

Robert B. Murray

Abstract

Background: In the United States, minorities are numerous and account for 28% of the population. It is well known that some of the cultural elements are related to the patients’ health. Therefore, it is an obligation of healthcare providers to become culturally competent to improve minorities’ overall healthcare.

PURPOSE: This study was conducted to assess the cultural attitudes, skills, and knowledge of undergraduate and graduate respiratory therapy (RT) students at an urban university located in the southeastern United States.

METHODS: The study used a descriptive exploratory design with a self-reporting survey. The survey instrument used was a short version of the Cultural Competence Self-Assessment “ASK” (Attitude–Skills–Knowledge) Scale. The survey was administered to a convenience sample of first and second-year BSRT and MSRT students attending an accredited RT program. The survey consisted of 24 items on a five-point Likert scale. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and independent samples t-test.

RESULTS: Fifty-three students were surveyed; around two-thirds of the respondents were female. Sixty-eight percent of respondents were BSRT and 22% were MSRT students. First-year students accounted for 56.6% of the respondents and second-year students accounted for 43.4%. The majority of the respondents were under the age of 25. The respondents reported to be ready to practice in the attitude and skills subscale (4.49±.49, 4.20±.62 respectively) but they need practice based on the knowledge subscale (3.80±.86). The statistically significant findings were found between first-year and second-year respondents in the skills subscale, knowledge subscale, and the total scale. However, there were no statistically significant difference between BSRT and MSRT students.

CONCLUSION: This study found that respondents made progress throughout the RT program. Also, it found that level of education has no effect on cultural competency. This may be because student’s level of cultural competence improves as they advance in their clinical course work and their educational training. The results may assist RT educators to recognize the students’ needs for more information to improve their cultural competency.

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