Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Phyllis T. Croisant


This study was designed to establish a valid physical ability test for use by the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities to screen job applicants for the position of Mental Health Technician Trainee. Physical ability tests to determine physical qualifications for jobs requiring substantial physical effort are permitted under current Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines if the required physical standards are job related and consistent with business necessity. In order to determine the physical demands encountered by Mental Health Technicians, a job analysis was conducted. The job analysis phase included: (i) a literature review, (ii) facility site visits, (iii) interviews with technicians, supervisors, and other administrators, (iv) an analysis of job descriptions and training session videotapes, and (v) a written survey of Mental Health Technicians and supervisors at twenty-one Mental Health and Developmental facilities. A total of 1123 questionnaires were distributed and 655 were returned with a return-rate of 58%. Ten job tasks requiring physical effort were identified that are frequently performed by Mental Health Technicians: (1) walk or stand for long periods of time, (2) perform general house cleaning duties, (3) participate in recreational activities with recipients, (4) bathe and dress recipients, (5) assist recipients with laundry, changing bed linens, and cleaning rooms, (6) push recipients in wheelchairs, (7) change Attends on recipients, (8) lift, turn, or reposition recipients, (9) run to the scene of a disturbance or emergency, and (10) lift and carry heavy objects other than recipients. Tasks 1, 4, and 9 were also rated as extremely important for a technician to be able to perform. Other tasks which were performed infrequently, but were also rated as critical, were: (11) physically separate fighting recipients, (12) defend yourself against an aggressive recipient (hitting, kicking, biting, pulling hair, etc.), (13) physically restrain an aggressive recipient with the help of other Mental Health Technicians, and (14) apply restraints to resisting recipients. Overall, these job tasks meet the definition of "essential functions" based on the written job descriptions, the amount of time spent performing the function, and/or the consequence if a Technician is not able to perform the function.

In the second phase of the investigation, the physical test battery and the correspondence between the essential job tasks of Mental Health Technicians and the content of the physical ability test were defined. The recommended test battery included both items that simulate essential job tasks, and items that measure the physical capacities underlying critical job tasks that require special training or are not easily simulated. These tests are: (1) Rockport 1.0 Mile Walk Test, (2) YMCA Bench Press Test, (3) Lift and Carry Test, (4) Hand Grip Strength Test, (5) Recipient Transfer Test, and (6) 100 yard Shuttle Run.