Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Health Sciences


Rehabilitation Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Tim L. Uhl

Second Advisor

Dr. Gilson Capilouto


Patient adherence to in-clinic rehabilitation is between 30-70% and even lower for home exercise programs (HEPs). Barriers to patient adherence have been identified and include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, lack of positive feedback, lack of social support, lack of time, low levels of physical activity at baseline, pain during exercise, and low self-efficacy. As clinicians prescribing rehabilitation may not be able to influence all of the identified barriers, they may positively influence others. Self-efficacy, or an individual’s belief in his/her ability to successfully complete a task, is a patient barrier that may be addressed by a clinician when aware of low self-efficacy and have tools to improve this barrier. Interventions to overcome this specific barrier have demonstrated an increase in not only self-efficacy but patient adherence as well. Although interventions have proven to be successful, patient adherence has yet to increase according to the literature. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that clinicians are assessing an individual’s level of self-efficacy prior to prescribing HEPs. In addition, there is no known metric to measure self-efficacy for HEPs in patients rehabilitating musculoskeletal conditions. Assessment of patient barriers, specifically self-efficacy, needs to be a standard of care in order to increase adherence, in turn, improve patient outcomes and to reduce the cost to our healthcare system.

The first purpose of this dissertation was to determine in patients with musculoskeletal conditions what scales have been developed and evaluated for assessing self-efficacy in conjunction with adherence. In addition, to determine if a tool exists specifically to assess self-efficacy for HEPs. Due to the task and situation-specific nature of self-efficacy, it is important that this construct is reflected in the assessments utilized by clinicians. The second purpose was to determine the importance and utilization of patients’ self-efficacy to physical therapists when addressing patient barriers. This included determining how physical therapists assess patient self-efficacy and barriers to assessment. The third purpose was to develop the Self-Efficacy for Home Exercise Programs Scale and determine the psychometric properties of the instrument. This also allowed for the examination of how self-efficacy relates to patient adherence in a musculoskeletal patient population.

The results of the first study suggest that within the musculoskeletal literature, a number of scales are being used to assess patient self-efficacy. These scales are either task, situation, or condition specific. No scale was found to assess self-efficacy for HEPs. This finding indicates the need to develop a scale to assess self-efficacy for HEPs. In the second study, 71% (n = 329/464) of physical therapists, disclosed assessing self-efficacy prior to prescribing HEPs and rated self-efficacy as very to extremely important when it comes to their patients’ adherence. Verbal discussion is the most common method of self-efficacy assessment (50%), followed by observation of the patient (38%), then patient self-report questionnaires (10%). Commonly, physical therapists report using verbal discussion and observation in combination. Of the 29% of the physical therapists that do not assess self-efficacy, 40% report not knowing how to assess self-efficacy, 19% are not sure what to do with the information once self-efficacy is assessed, 16% claim there are other barriers to assessment, 15% claim that assessing self-efficacy will not change their practice, another 9% claim assessing self-efficacy takes too much time, and the last 1% do not know what self-efficacy is. These results further suggest the need for a scale to assess self-efficacy for HEPs. The purpose of the final study was to developed a Self-Efficacy for Home Exercise Programs Scale. The scale was found to have high internal consistency (α = 0.96), acceptable test-retest reliability (ICC = 0.8, SEM = 5, MDC = 7), and strong convergent validity with the Self-Efficacy for Exercise scale (rho(ρ) = 0.83, p < 0.01). Unique to this scale, a cutoff score was determined to be 59 points with a positive likelihood ratio of 2.0 (95% CI 1.1 – 2.5) indicating those who score below 59 points on the SEHEPS would be 2 times more likely to be non-adherent than adherent to their HEP. A weak to moderate, positive relationship was detected between the patients’ initial level of self-efficacy for their HEP and adherence (rho(ρ) = 0.38, p = 0.03). These results suggest that the Self-Efficacy for Home Exercise Programs Scale may be utilized by rehabilitation clinicians to assess self-efficacy for HEPs. Clinically, this scale may provide clinicians the ability to decipher patients who are not likely to adhere to their prescribed HEP, allowing clinicians to intervene immediately. Early intervention to improve self-efficacy may increase adherence to HEPs and eventually patient outcomes.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)