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The attitudes of direct care workers towards persons with disabilities: An exploratory study

Dissertation
Author: Abdoulaye Diallo
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes of direct care workers (DCWs) in group homes towards PWDs. This study also investigated DCWs' demographic and other variables on their attitudes towards PWDs. The scale of attitudes towards disabled persons (SADP) questionnaire was administered to a purposive sample of 108 direct care workers in four group homes companies in the Lansing area. Of the 108 participants, 104 responded, but six participants were dropped from the studies because they did not answer most of the questions, resulting in 98 usable questionnaires, a 90 percent response rate. Quantitative analysis, using descriptive statistics to investigate DCWs' attitudes and general linear model to investigate the effects of DCWs' demographic and other variables on their attitudes towards PWDs. Regarding DCWs' attitudes, both their general and specific attitudes, that is DCW's optimistic, behavioral misconception, and pessimism attitudes, were investigated. For variables that had effects on DCWs' attitudes, comparison were made regarding differences within the variables to see different categories' or groups' effects. Results show that DCWs in the group homes had moderate positive attitudes towards PWDs, in both their general and specific attitudes. Result regarding DCWs' demographic and other variables' effects on DCWs' attitudes shows that some variable had effects while others did not. Comparison within variables shows significant differences between and among some of the groups, indicating that some variable had more positive or negative attitudes than others, and non significant differences in others. (1) The overall attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs were general positive. (2) Training needs, knowledge about disability, and contact with PWDs and had an impact on their overall attitudes towards PWDs. (3) DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs in relation to the SAPD subscales were positive for the SADP's three subscales. (4) For training needs, in all the scales, only the means of those whose training needs were a combination of directly working with clients (DWC), learning about disability (LAD), and helping individual with disability (HIWD) were significantly different from the means of all the other groups. (5) Contact had effect on the SAPD scale, and its subscales, 2 and 3. All of the subtypes of "contact" positively affected the attitudes of DCWs in the SAPD scale. (6) For "population DCWs worked with" in subscale 2, those who worked with brain injuries (BI) and those who worked with a combination of those with mental retardation (MR) and psychiatric disability (PD) had negative attitudes. (7) For "knowledge about disability," all the categories under knowledge had positive effects towards PWDs. There are implications for training and research. Increasing DCWs' level of knowledge about disability can help their attitudes towards PWDs. Research can focus on the training needs of PWDs since training needs have the potentials of affecting DCWs' attitudes. Also, research can focus on the type of contact and how they affect DCWs' attitudes. Furthermore, researchers should replicate this study with different DCWs to see whether they can find similar results as this study, and they can focus on which type of knowledge can positively impact DCWs' attitudes.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES viii LIST OF FIGURES ix LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS x CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 01 Statement of the Problem 02 Purpose of the Study 05 Research Questions 06 Significance of Study 06 Definition of Terms 07 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW 10 Discrimination towards People with Disability 10 Attitudes of Society 14 Education, experience, and motivation in rehabilitation counseling 22 Measuring Scales 26 CHAPTER III: METHOD 29 Participants 29 Instruments 30 Procedure 34 Research Design. 37 Data Analysis 38 CHAPTER IV: RESULTS 40 DCW demographic variables 40 Analysis of DCWs' Attitudes 46 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION 73 Attitudes towards PWDs 74 Variables and their effects 77 Limitations 81 Implications 83 Conclusion 85 APPENDICES 87 APPENDIX A 87 APPENDIX B 89 APPENDIX C 93 APPENDIX D 94 vi

APPENDIX E 98 APPENDIX F 99 APPENDIX G 100 REFERENCES 101 vii

LIST OF TABLES Table 1. Demographic and other Characteristics of the Sample 43 Table 2. Individual Scores of DCWs towards PWDs 48 Table 3. Means for Training Needs Categorie 55 Table 4. Means for Contact with PWDS Categorie 57 Table 5. Means for Training Needs Categories in Subscale 63 Table 6. Means for Population Categories in Subscale 65 Table 7. Means for Contact Categories in Subscale 67 Table 8. Means for Training Needs Categories in Subscale 69 Table 9. Means for Contact Categories in Subscale 70 viii

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Histogram of DCWs' Attitude towards PWDs Score ix

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS PWD Persons with Disabilities DCW Direct Care Workers ADA The American with Disability Act of SAPD Scale of Attitudes towards Persons with Disabilities DWC Directly Working with Clients LAD Learning About Disability HIWD Helping Individuals with Disabilities NN No Needs BI Brain Injury DD Developmental Disability MR Mental Retardation PD Psychiatric Disability O Other VLCPWD Very Little Contact with persons with disabilities LC Little Contact with persons with disabilities SC Some Contact with persons with disabilities FC Frequent Contact with persons with disabilities VFC Very Frequent Contact with persons with disabilities EC Extensive with persons with disabilities NVK Not Very Knowledgeable K Knowledgeable VK Very Knowledgeable X

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Society can provide and ensure that persons with disabilities (PWDs) receive the best quality of service. For example, legislators can pass laws that include the interest of PWDs, and health care workers can dispense services to PWDs. Likewise, rehabilitation counselors and other rehabilitation professionals can focus on the strengths of PWDs and empower them to reach their maximum potentials. Direct care workers (DCWs) can provide a supportive and safe environment in which PWDs can learn and grow. In positively serving and affecting the lives of PWDs, the attitudes of society in general, and of DCWs specifically, towards PWDs are invaluable. According to Smart (2001), negative attitudes of people make it more difficult (than the disability itself) to live a fulfilling life. A negative attitude can result in less opportunity for PWDs, whereas a positive attitude can lead to opportunities that can benefit PWDs (Smart). Ultimately, the quality of lives, which according to Livneh (2001) is the ultimate goal of rehabilitation, can be affected by attitudes towards PWDs. It is therefore worth investigating the attitudes of DCWs, who work daily with PWDs and provide valuable services, such as training in hygiene, cooking, and other related tasks, so that PWDs can live more independently. While research in attitudinal studies of PWDs in the rehabilitation literature has focused on rehabilitation professionals (Benham, 1988; Emener, 1977; Kaplan & Thomas, 1981; Parkinson, 2006; Spengler, Strohmer, & Prout, 1990), (Byrd, Byrd & Emener, 1977; Huitt and Elston, 1991) and employers ((Bowman, 1987; Brostrand, 2006; Farina & Felner, 1973; Gordon, Minnes, and Holden, 1990); Olkin, 1999; 1

Satcher, & Dooley-Dickey, 1992), studies have overlooked the attitudes of DCWs in general towards PWDs as well as the attitudes of specific groups of DCWs (e. g. DCWs with experience and those without much experience, DCWs with more education and those with less education, females and males DCWs). Yet, DCWs are the ones who work directly and daily with PWDs, doing important tasks in the implementation of treatment plans developed by counselors, managers, and other professionals. DCWs in general and specific groups of DCWs are in a significant position to greatly impact the lives of PWDs, including their quality of life. Statement of problem This study is an exploratory investigation of the attitudes of direct care workers (in group homes) towards PWDs. Attitudes, both negative and positive, towards PWDs go back to ancient times and have manifested themselves in several ways. The sources of these attitudes include faulty information, economic and safety threats, emphases on fitness, beauty and youth, spread or overgeneralization, the need to secure resources for and to protect society, and the need to treat others humanely (Smart, 2001). We see the effect of false beliefs and the need to protect society, for example, in the Greek and Roman era. The false belief that a fault in the soul also means a fault in the body (Dickinson, 1961) can predispose people to a negative attitude towards PWDs (Lee & Rodda, 1994), and likewise the need to defend and to provide for society can lead to support for the healthy young while neglecting those with disabilities (Wright, 1980). However, during this ancient time, there were also positive attitudes towards PWDs, for accurate information that disability is not the result of Gods punishment (Wright), 2

but rather a brain pathology and environmental conditions, led to positive treatments, such as the creations of recreation centers for PWDs (Rubin & Roesler, 2001). In early America, where focus was on survival, PWDs received poor treatment, while in 19 century America, humanitarian religious beliefs encouraged the successful to help the unfortunate and PWDs received more positive treatment. For example, society provided the resources to create rehabilitation programs for PWDs. However, the post-civil war period, there were the Eugenics and Darwinism movements which did not favor positive attitudes towards PWDs because PWDs did not meet their standards (Riggar & Maki, 2004). The former wanted to improve the inborn quality of people (Glad, 2007) and the latter was interested in keeping only the "strong" who are not burdensome to society (Leonard, 2009). There was also the segregationist attitude, with special programs that separated the "deviant" from the normal." At these times in history, PWDs were seen as dangerous and the need to protect society led to negative attitudes, which in turn led to incarceration of some PWDs (Rubin & Roesler). In our current society, the treatment of PWDs is far better compared to the past. However, unfair treatment continues (Smart, 2001). Currently, PWDs are often denied their right to exercise choice and control over basic aspects of their lives (Kosciulek, 2000), including living arrangements, work, and recreation (Kosciulek, 1999a). A large number of PWDs can be at risk of experiencing social stigma (Phemister & Crewe, 2004), through which they were therefore also avoided (Siller, 1963). In employment they face discrimination (Olkin, 1999). The spread or overgeneralization effect can influence employers. Here, they can discount or underrate the abilities of a PWD 3

because the person has an impairment, assuming that a physical or other impairments also means lack of intellectual or other abilities (Smart). These cases of negative attitudes towards PWDs in the past and present show the baneful consequences PWDs face. These consequences can lead to behaviors (Chubon, 1992; Corrigan, 2006) such as bias and discrimination, which in turn can result in fewer opportunities in employment (Brostrand, 2006; Smart, 2004; Szymanski and Parker, 1996), in health care (Conover, Arno, Weaver, Ang, & Ettner, 2006; Stapleton, Livermore, and O'Day, Imparato, 2005), in education (Batavia and Beaulaurier, 2001; Komesaroff, 2004), and in other areas for PWDs. For the functioning of negative bias, Yuker (1988) mentioned three conditions - saliency, value, and context. He made the point that if something stands out significantly or is salient, if it is seen or valued as negative, or if it the context is vague, the negative value placed on the thing will play a great role in guiding people's perception, thinking, and feeling to fit the thing's negative characteristics. While efforts have been made to end these biases, discrimination and other unfair and inhumane treatments of PWDs, negative attitudes towards PWDs continues because, according to Smart (2004), it is difficult to legislate attitudes. For example, employers' and others' behaviors are often influenced by attitudes and beliefs instead of by the law (Smart). There is the potential of DCWs having negative attitudes towards PWDs because researchers (Comer and Piliavian, 1975; Oberle, 1971; Olkin, 1999) have shown that society at large, and even professionals, have negative attitudes towards PWDs. 4

However, as I already mentioned, we do not know much about the attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs. If direct care workers have negative attitudes towards PWDs, PWDs can face many of the same negative attitudes of society and resulting consequences mentioned above. To address this lack of knowledge in DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs, we need to focus research in this area. Purpose of the Study DCWs can enter the field of rehabilitation counseling with less preparation compared to rehabilitation counselors and other rehabilitation personnel, which can negatively affect their attitudes towards PWDs and ultimately the lives of PWDs. Accordingly, a negative attitude of a direct care worker (e. g., believing that PWDs cannot learn) in a shopping training for a PWD can lead to the DCWs doing the shopping instead of following a treatment plan and teaching and allowing the PWD to do his/her own shopping. Such attitudes can lead to dependence of PWDs all their lives. And because DCWs work with PWDs daily in many areas of their lives, we can see similar examples where PWDs are not benefiting from services if DCWs have negative attitudes towards them (PWDs). This shows a need for understanding the attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs in order to give them the help they need in best servicing PWDs DCWs may have different levels of education and experience in working with PWDs and different motivations for choosing direct care work, and these and other factors, such as gender and race may influence their attitudes towards PWDs. Studying the attitude of DCWs towards PWDs, including the relationship of DCWs' attitudes with the DCWs' motivation for choosing direct care work, the 5

DCWs' level of experience, the DCWs level of education, and the gender and race of DCWS are important ways to inform us and fill the gap in the literature on DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs. The population of DCWs is important because they work with PWDs more than six hours daily in most cases, implementing goals that are basic, but crucial to the lives of PWDs. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes of DCWs' towards PWDs in general, and the relation between DCWs attitudes towards PWDs and motivation for choosing a career (direct care work, for example), number of years worked, level of education, and the gender and race of DCWs. This study will be limited to DCWs in group settings. Research Questions 1) What are the attitudes of DCWs' towards PWDs? 2) Will DCWs' motivation for choosing direct care work (in group homes) impact their attitudes towards PWDs? 3) Will DCWs' (in group homes) amounts of experience in working with PWDs impact their attitudes towards PWDs? 4) Will DCWs' (in group homes) level of education impact their attitudes towards PWDs? 5) Will other demographic variables (age, gender, and race) of DCWs affect their attitudes towards PWDs? Significance of the study The results of this study have the potential of extending existing knowledge in terms of the attitudes of direct care workers towards PWDs in the rehabilitation literature. More specifically, the rehabilitation counseling field can be informed about 6

DCWs' educational level, motivation for choosing direct care work, experience working with PWDs, the gender and race of DCWs, and the relationships of these factors with DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs. Administrators and managers can use this knowledge in employing the best employees. There are also implications for the practice of rehabilitation professionals if DCWs and the specific groups have negative attitudes towards PWDs. Understanding the attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs can better help rehabilitation professionals to train DCWs and to help them provide the best service with positive attitudes towards PWDs. Employers (Gordon, Minnes, and Holden, 1990; Szymanski and Parker, 1996), rehabilitation counselors (Kaplan and Thomas, 1981; Parkinson, 2006), and students (Wong, Chan, Cardoso, Lam & Miller, 2004) have been found to have negative attitudes towards PWDs, and as a result these populations have been target for attitude change through attitude changing strategies (education and cognitive, for example). Likewise, Rehabilitation professionals can help DCWs with negative attitudes to benefit from attitudinal training, which ultimately will benefit PWDs. Defining Terms Attitudes: Attitude is defined as an idea that is filled with emotion and that predisposes a person to act in a certain way towards a person or a situation or an event (Triandis, 1971), and it consists of cognition, affect, and behavior (Clarke & Crewe, 2000). Attitudes of people towards PWDs can be affected by their motives for working with PWDs, their level of education (Rice, Rosen, & Macmann, 1991), and their years of experience working with PWDs (Benham, 1988). 7

Direct Care workers: Direct care workers in this study refer to employees who work directly with clients, providing a variety of services, including training clients in basic living skills, dispensing medication to clients, accompanying them to doctors and to other appointments, and many other important tasks. In general they work in hospitals, nursing homes, sheltered workshops, and group homes for individuals with developmental and other significant disabilities. In this study DCWs will be limited to DCWs who work in groups homes. Group homes for individuals with disabilities are homes where at least four clients with disabilities reside. Disability: Disability is a long term or chronic medical condition (physiological, anatomical, mental, or emotional); that is, an impairment resulting from traumas, illnesses, disease, inherited or congenital defeats, or environments, which can cause a handicap. In other words, a disadvantage or barrier to performance or opportunity, or fulfillment in vocational, educational, or other roles, and/or functional limitation, which is an hindrance in performing tasks (e. g. difficulties in a college lecture as a result of learning difficulties) (Wright, 1980). Quality of Life: Researchers have operationalized and defined quality of life in different ways. In the rehabilitation field, it includes social, psychological, physical well being, and health perceptions and opportunities (Chandrashekas & Benshoff, 2007). In their definition of successful outcome, vocational rehabilitation and independent living rehabilitation programs include quality of life; quality of life should include life satisfaction in relation to standards the consumer deems desirable or undesirable for him or her (Riggar & Maki, 2004). 8

In sum, this is an exploratory study in the field of rehabilitation that looks at the attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs. DCWs are in a position to affect the lives of PWDs, and ultimately their QOLs. However, little is known about their attitudes towards PWDs and research has shown that there are negative attitudes of society at large towards PWDs. The findings of this study can shed light on the attitudes of DCWs, which will in turn help administrators, rehabilitation professionals and others better help DCWs give the best service possible through positive attitudes towards PWDs. 9

CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW The purpose of the proposed study is to investigate the attitudes of direct care workers towards PWDs. This chapter provides a review of important topics in studying DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs. The main topics included in this literature review include: (1) discrimination against PWDs, (2) attitudes towards PWDs, (3) education, experience, and motivation/rehabilitation field, and (4) scales measuring attitudes towards PWDs. This literature review encompasses work from many rehabilitation scholars as well as scholars in other field of studies. Discrimination towards PWDs Discrimination against PWDs is the fruit of negative attitudes. The American with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) was passed after congress heard testimonies, many of which were emotional, about the unfairness of how PWDs were treated in employment and other areas (Rubin & Roesler, 2004). Whether the ADA has been successful in ending discrimination is debatable. On the one hand, many of its critics questioned whether the ADA has succeeded in helping a large number of PWDs participate in employment (Blanck, 1996). For example, according to Schur, Kruse & Blanck (2005), researchers disagree about the effectiveness of the ADA in helping PWDs gain employment. They further state that for those with severe work limitations, only about 25.4 % had employment in 1999. According to Bush (2001) and Kennedy & Olney (2001), the employment rates of individuals with severe disabilities remained static from 1991, when the ADA was passed, to 2001. According to Rubin and Roessler, twenty years after the ADA was passed to remove employment 10

discrimination and other barriers for PWDs, only about a quarter of working-age PWDs had full time employment. Schwochau and Blanck (2003) state that the ADA has failed in helping PWDs gain employment. According to Corrigan, Kerr, and Knudsen (2005), the success of legislation (including ADA) in protecting PWDs does not mean that employers will not discriminate against PWDs, since employers can find informal ways to deny employment to PWDs. Greenwood & Johnson (1987) also made points in this vein. They indicated that a compilation and synthesis of more than 90 studies spanning 40 years of research into employers' attitudes toward and concerns about workers with disabilities show that stereotypical attitudes towards PWDs persist. Others, however, see the ADA as a success in helping PWDs. For example, according to Schur, Kruse & Blanck (2005), companies have hired more PWDs since the ADA. In addition, they state that progress has been made in public transportation accessibility, installations of curbs to streets and ramps to public buildings, and accessibility in new buildings. According to Blank (1996), the ADA has been successful in improving the participation of qualified individuals with disabilities in the labor force as well as in decreasing their dependency on the government. Regardless of the success of the ADA, discrimination towards PWDs continues in our society. However, it is worth noting the points made by McMahon, Roessler, Rumrill, Hurley, West, Chan, Carlson (2008), who stated that while there is discrimination in gaining employment, most complains of ADA employment discrimination are in the areas of job retention and career advancement. They also indicated that studies in general have shown that negative attitudes are more towards 11

persons with behavioral disabilities; however, their research showed that discrimination in hiring is mostly towards those with physical or sensory impairments. Employers have the same negative attitudes towards PWDs as does society at large (Szymanski and Parker, 1996). According to Brostrand (2006), employers may not be inclined to provide equitable employment for PWDs, and if employers have these negative attitudes, the corollaries can be discrimination, and employers' behaviors may be influenced by attitudes and beliefs instead of by laws (like the ADA). As a result there is the potential of PWDs losing the benefits of working, which according to Gonzalez (2009) is a socially recognized activity that provides emotional welfare and increases self esteem. Shur, Kruse, Blasi, and Blanck (2009), in their survey study of employers from fourteen companies, found that disability is linked to lower average wage, job security, training, participation in decisions, and negative attitudes towards job and company, which according to Uppal (2005) is likely due to discrimination, harassment, and other conditions in the work place. However, Schur, Kruse, Blasi, and Blanck also found that the above mentioned relationships varied from employer to employer and that PWDs benefited from employers who are responsive to the need of all employees. Discrimination against PWDs in other areas, such as health care and education and training, to name but a few, are common place as well. According to Stapleton, Livermore, O'Day, and Imparato (2005), PWDs are discriminated against in health care and in getting resources from health care providers and other personnel. For example, they stated that only about 37% of those with severe disabilities receive means-tested government assistance. And, for those who receive these aids, they state 12

that it is not enough to get them out of poverty and that they cannot work and add to their income (because of restrictions). In addition to receiving inadequate resources, PWDs receive poor health care (Conover, Arno, Weaver, Ang, & Ettner, 2006). In education and training, educators and others discriminate against PWDs. Education is very important, yet PWD witness discrimination in this area - 20% of PWDs do not have a high school degree (compared with 10% of our population without disabilities) (Batavia and Beaulaurier, 2001). According to Komesaroff (2004), it is the most important issues for those who are deaf, yet the most difficult on which to advocate and bring about change. Iacobelli (1970) surveyed employers regarding their attitudes towards regular and disadvantage workers and how their attitudes affect their willingness to train both types of worker without financial and other assistance from the government. They found that employers believe that the government should provide at least half of the training cost, be responsible for collecting and distributing the information and for coordinating nationwide training activities, and make the policies for local use. While companies believe that specific skills should be their responsibility, they indicated that remedial training should the government's and education system's duty. Such attitudes can lead to less education or training for PWDs, which, according to Batavia and Beaulaurier, can cause poverty. DCWs are definitely not immune to these types of discrimination by professionals and others. As I have already stated, one of the main reasons for discrimination against PWDs is negative attitudes of society (Smart, 2004). In order to meet PWDs' needs in the work place, Uppal (1996) indicated that we need a comprehensive approach that focuses not just on policies, but also on 13

attitudes, including investigating the attitudes, values, and beliefs of both management and staff, including DCWs as a whole. The next section n will discuss the attitudes of society towards PWDs. Attitudes of society towards PWDs Negative attitudes as opposed to positive attitudes (which include friendliness and interaction) entail avoidance and rejection (Antonak & Livneh, 1988). Ambivalent attitudes, on the other hand, are dual, in the sense that there is feeling of aversion, on the one hand, and compassion on the other (Katz, Hass, & Bailey, 1988). This section is divided into these subsections: 1) dimension and formation of attitudes, 2) attitudes of particular groups towards PWDs, 3) instruments used to measure attitudes towards PWDs. Dimension/Structure/formation. According to Antonak and Livneh (1988), two dimensions are usually considered, namely abstractness and extensiveness, when defining attitudes. In the former, according to Antonak & Livneh, attitude is not directly observed, but rather inferred, and they are seen as residing within us. Here, they further state that attitude can be evoked by specific reference objects (individuals, for example), which can elicit an attitude response from the subjects. Extensiveness, the second component, can be structurally categorized into a cognitive (individual ideas, thoughts, perception, etc. about the attitude reference), an affective (feeling or emotional aspects of attitudes), and a behavioral component (intent or readiness to behave in a particular way towards the attitude object) (Antonak & Livneh). Moreover, Antonak & Livneh (1988) state that there are those who define attitude narrowly, not including the cognitive and behavioral aspects. Additionally, 14

they made the point that despite the lack of consensus in defining attitude, there are some agreements, and these include: a) attitudes are learned, b) they are complex, multi-component, structure c) they are relatively stable, e) they have special social objects as a referent, f) they vary (in quality and quantity), and g) they are manifested behaviorally. What are the sources of these negative attitudes? Attitudes formation. The sources of these negative attitudes include fear (Siller, 1963), faulty information, economic threat, threat to safety, threat to the cultural emphasis on fitness, beauty and youth, and spread or overgeneralization of the effect of the disability (Rubin & Roessler, 2001). Based on Fishbein and Ajzen's framework of attitude formation, negative attitudes are the results of faulty information about disability and PWDs (Hunt & Hunt, 2004). In spread or overgeneralization, for example, an employer can discount or underrate the mathematical or supervisory ability of PWDs by assuming that the person with a visual (or another impairment) also has mathematical, supervisory or other impairments (Smart, 2001). In other words, the employer might generalize a visual impairment to other areas of the individual. Siller (1984) mentioned the relationship between personality and attitudes towards PWDs, indicating that personality characteristics, such as anxiety, hostility and rigidity, are related to negative attitudes towards PWDs. These sources of attitudes have led society to have negative attitudes towards PWDs (Smart). People in general can form attitudes (positive or negative) towards PWDs. With the general population, English and Oberle (1971) found that almost one-half have positive attitudes toward individuals with disabilities, while Comer and Piliavian (1975), on the other hand, state that more than one-half have negative attitudes toward 15

Full document contains 117 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to examine the attitudes of direct care workers (DCWs) in group homes towards PWDs. This study also investigated DCWs' demographic and other variables on their attitudes towards PWDs. The scale of attitudes towards disabled persons (SADP) questionnaire was administered to a purposive sample of 108 direct care workers in four group homes companies in the Lansing area. Of the 108 participants, 104 responded, but six participants were dropped from the studies because they did not answer most of the questions, resulting in 98 usable questionnaires, a 90 percent response rate. Quantitative analysis, using descriptive statistics to investigate DCWs' attitudes and general linear model to investigate the effects of DCWs' demographic and other variables on their attitudes towards PWDs. Regarding DCWs' attitudes, both their general and specific attitudes, that is DCW's optimistic, behavioral misconception, and pessimism attitudes, were investigated. For variables that had effects on DCWs' attitudes, comparison were made regarding differences within the variables to see different categories' or groups' effects. Results show that DCWs in the group homes had moderate positive attitudes towards PWDs, in both their general and specific attitudes. Result regarding DCWs' demographic and other variables' effects on DCWs' attitudes shows that some variable had effects while others did not. Comparison within variables shows significant differences between and among some of the groups, indicating that some variable had more positive or negative attitudes than others, and non significant differences in others. (1) The overall attitudes of DCWs towards PWDs were general positive. (2) Training needs, knowledge about disability, and contact with PWDs and had an impact on their overall attitudes towards PWDs. (3) DCWs' attitudes towards PWDs in relation to the SAPD subscales were positive for the SADP's three subscales. (4) For training needs, in all the scales, only the means of those whose training needs were a combination of directly working with clients (DWC), learning about disability (LAD), and helping individual with disability (HIWD) were significantly different from the means of all the other groups. (5) Contact had effect on the SAPD scale, and its subscales, 2 and 3. All of the subtypes of "contact" positively affected the attitudes of DCWs in the SAPD scale. (6) For "population DCWs worked with" in subscale 2, those who worked with brain injuries (BI) and those who worked with a combination of those with mental retardation (MR) and psychiatric disability (PD) had negative attitudes. (7) For "knowledge about disability," all the categories under knowledge had positive effects towards PWDs. There are implications for training and research. Increasing DCWs' level of knowledge about disability can help their attitudes towards PWDs. Research can focus on the training needs of PWDs since training needs have the potentials of affecting DCWs' attitudes. Also, research can focus on the type of contact and how they affect DCWs' attitudes. Furthermore, researchers should replicate this study with different DCWs to see whether they can find similar results as this study, and they can focus on which type of knowledge can positively impact DCWs' attitudes.