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Saw/talked to therapist (PT/OT), past 12 months

Codes and Frequencies

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SAWTHERA identifies sample children and sample adults who had seen or talked to a physical therapist, speech therapist, respiratory therapist, audiologist, or occupational therapist about their health during the past twelve months.


The Field Representative's Manual for 1997 forward defined the type of services offered by these health care professionals, but these definitions were not routinely shared with respondents.


A physical therapist was defined as "a health care professional who administers therapy to develop, improve, or restore gross motor skill movements, such as walking." An occupational therapist was defined as "a health care professional who works to develop, improve, or restore fine motor skills which usually involves the use of the fingers, hands, or arms. It may involve working on activities like dressing, feeding, and writing." An audiologist was defined as "a person skilled in working with hearing problems. These services include: identifying a hearing problem; determining the range and nature of the hearing problem; training the individual to deal with the problem, such as teaching lip-reading; and counseling the family members on how to deal with the problem." A speech therapist was defined as "a person who works to improve speech or oral communication for problems such as stuttering, impaired articulation, or a language or voice impairment." A respiratory therapist was defined as "a person who provides services prescribed by a physician for the assessment, diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and management and monitoring of patients with deficiencies and abnormalities of cardiopulmonary function."

Related Variables

SAWTHERA is one of several variables identifying specific types of health care practitioners that respondents had consulted in the previous twelve months. Interviewers began the series of questions by saying, "During the past 12 months, that is, since [12 month reference date], have you seen or talked to any of the following health care providers about your own/[sample child's] health?"


Other types of health care practitioners identified in the survey are: "an optometrist, optician, or eye doctor (someone who prescribes eye glasses)" (SAWEYEDR); "a general doctor who treats variety of illnesses (a doctor in general practice, family medicine, or internal medicine)" (SAWGEN); "a foot doctor" (SAWFOOT); "a doctor who specializes in women's health (an obstetrician/gynecologist)"(SAWGYN); "a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or clinical social worker" (SAWMENT); "a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or midwife" (SAWRNPA); "a chiropractor" (SAWCHIR); and
"a medical doctor who specializes in a particular medical disease or problem (other than obstetrician/gynecologist, psychiatrist, or ophthalmologist)" (SAWSPEC).

If the respondent had seen more than one type of health professional during a single visit, each of these practitioners was to be reported separately. As the Manual for 1997-2000 explained, "If the Sample Adult saw a physician's assistant who checked his temperature and blood pressure before seeing the general practitioner, count this as both 'a general doctor...' and 'a ... physician's assistant,' even though they were both seen on the same visit." The Manual for 2001 forward made the same point: "if the Sample Child saw a physician's assistant for a physical exam before seeing the general practitioner (physician) for further diagnosis, count this as both "a general practitioner" and "a physician's assistant."


This variable is completely comparable over time.


  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children under age 18.


  • 1997-2018