Perceptions towards disability among social work students in Israel: Development and validation of a new scale

Roni Holler*, Shirli Werner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Over the last decades, the disability movement has been advocating for a paradigmatic shift in how disability is perceived and managed: from a medical or individual perspective focusing on the person's body and mind to a social perspective emphasizing the context and barriers of disability. However, we still know little about the perceptions of helping professionals, particularly social workers who work closely with disabled people. Thus, the aim of the current study is to develop and validate a scale—Perceptions Toward Disability Scale (PTDS)—to measure how social workers view disability: as an individual or social category. This paper describes the three phases of the scale's construction. First, scale items were formulated and its content validity was examined. Next, a pilot of 30 social workers completed a questionnaire and an initial exploratory factor analysis was conducted. In the third and main phase, the final draft was completed in 2016 by 565 Israeli social work students to assess its psychometric properties. Both exploratory and confirmatory factorial validity and discriminant validity analyses were conducted. The results of a confirmatory factor analysis revealed two distinct factors: an individual perspective of disability comprised of eight items (α = 0.77) and a social perspective of disability comprised of ten (α = 0.66). Subsequent analyses supported the scale's discriminant validity as indicated by the lack of an association between the Attitude Toward Disabled Persons Scale (ATDP) and the social model subscale (r =.13, p =.19) and by the weak negative relation with the individual model subscale (r = −.25, p =.01). These findings show that the PTDS possesses promising construct validity and provide support for its utility. This easy-to-administer instrument offers several practical benefits and can serve as a framework for further empirical research regarding social work practice with disabled people.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • individual model of disability
  • perceptions towards disability
  • scale development
  • social model of disability
  • social workers


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