Year of Publication

2019

Date of Thesis

11-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational therapy

Abstract

While research suggests that the Deaf cultural and linguistic identities are often undervalued in healthcare settings (Lezzoni, O’Day, Killeen, & Harker, 2004), there is a lack of research exploring interactions between occupational therapy practitioners and culturally Deaf individuals. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of occupational therapy practitioners who have provided services to a Deaf client. Four practitioners were recruited to participate in qualitative interviews. The inclusion criteria were that within the last year, the practitioner had provided direct services to a Deaf client who primarily communicated via American Sign Language (ASL). Interpretive phenomological methods were used to analyze the transcribed interview data for themes. The first theme to emerge reflected on the therapists’ experiences with cross-cultural communication. A second theme explored cultural etiquette, including the value of maintaining eye contact. A third theme was cultural perceptions and practice considerations for the participants, encompassing perceived impacts of particular deficits on this population. The fourth theme that emerged was striving for cultural knowledge with the intention of improving cultural sensitivity and overall quality of care. The experiences included in this study offered the potential for improving the cultural relevance of services for members of the Deaf community. This may improve the effectiveness of occupational therapy services, including strengthened rapport, improved ability to communicate, and better therapy outcomes. By understanding the impact of cultural considerations on practice for the Deaf community, practitioners might be more sensitized to the needs of other cultural groups.

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