Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational therapy; Occupational therapy assistants; Occupational therapists; Race relations; Ethnic relations


There is only a small amount of research of the effects of race, culture and ethnicity on occupational therapy (OT) practice. This study was based on a replication of the study designed in 1987 and first replicated in 1996. In all three studies, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants were surveyed about how they feel their own backgrounds and their clients’ backgrounds affect the occupational therapy process with small modifications made to the questions to modernize language and to the format to increase return of the survey. The most significant finding from the current study was that attendance at a sociocultural (diversity) workshop or seminar had a statistically significant association with how therapists respond to a questions about how a therapist’s ethnic background could interfere with treatment. Additionally, when registered occupational therapists (OTR’s) were asked how a client’s background interferes with and enhances therapy, multiple themes were identified. Some examples include, learning from the client, helping to establish rapport, language/communication barriers, etc. When OTR’s were asked how a therapist’s background interferes with and enhances therapy, again multiple themes were identified. Some examples include, increased relatability with client, therapeutic use of self and the invisibility of White privilege. These themes identified are very similar to those identified in the 1996 replication. More research needs to be done on the relationship between the attitudes occupational therapists have about race, culture and ethnicity and the effects it has on the OT process. This study leads to implications for the profession of occupational therapy, practicing occupational therapists, OT educators, OT students and clients of occupational therapy.



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