Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

Advisor 1

Tiffany Barrett

Advisor 2

Keoni Kins

First Committee Member

Merrill Landers

Second Committee Member

Daniel Young

Number of Pages



A. Background of Knowledge: Nevada ranks 8th highest in uninsured population in the United States. People who are uninsured may be more affected by low back pain (LBP) than their insured counterparts. Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada (VMSN), a non-profit organization, serves uninsured people in Nevada. VMSN partnered with UNLV Physical Therapy (UNLVPT) to provide a back-school for patients. UNLVPT proposed a service-learning model to provide both education and treatment for VMSN patients with LBP. B. Purpose: The purpose of this community-based research project is to create and implement a student-run pro-bono back-school for uninsured individuals with LBP in an urban underserved community and explore patient and facility perceptions on feasibility via qualitative surveys. C. Project Aim/Goal: Address the gap in physical therapy services for uninsured individuals in the Las Vegas community by development of an evidence-based pro-bono back-school. Utilize the information gained from patient and facility surveys to ensure quality of the back-school program and to shape future iterations. D. Methodology: An evidenced based back-school was created by eight DPT students consisting of four 2-week sessions. Sessions included: an evaluation, education, and an individualized home exercise program. Patient participants and VMSN personnel were asked to complete quality assurance surveys regarding perceived program value, quality, and feasibility. Surveys consisted of Likert-scale and open-ended questions. Descriptive statistics were generated for Likert-scale responses while positive and negative themes were extracted from open-ended responses. Participants: Individuals over the age of 18 with LBP. Individuals with signs of cervical/thoracic spine pain or other conditions were excluded from participating in the survey. Other exclusion criteria: current inflammatory arthritis, cauda equina syndrome, and/or spine-related infection, fracture, tumors or cancer. iv E. Results: 26 patient participants completed sessions and 23 consented to surveys. 7 VMSN personnel consented to surveys. At least 85% of patient participants “agreed” with every question asked. 100% of VMSN personnel agreed that the program met a major need of the facility and that the program was feasible to implement. Individualized care was a common theme among groups. Themes related to physical space limits and recruitment related issues noted. F. Discussion: These findings suggest that quality assurance surveys are useful when developing new student-run pro-bono service-learning programs. The overall positive results support that a student-led, pro-bono back-school can be well received by both patient participants and community healthcare partners. Local programs might leverage these findings to better ensure quality and long-term feasibility of this and similar service-learning projects.


Pro-Bono; Back-School; Service-Learning; Student-Led; Physical Therapy; Feasibility; Volunteer; Uninsured; Perceptions; Low Back Pain


Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Therapy | Rehabilitation and Therapy

File Format


File Size

1.601 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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