Occupational Therapy Dissertations and Theses

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    How does trauma impact on adults’ ability to obtain and sustain employment?
    (2023) Howard, Nicola
    This research project focused on “How does trauma impact on adults’ ability to obtain and sustain employment?” Using an occupational therapy focused lens, this research project aimed to address the limitations of other studies, which do not explore understanding of the effects trauma has functionally on employment. It also sought to reflect the unique bi-cultural Aotearoa New Zealand context to include Māori and their experiences in obtaining and sustaining employment, which is missing in other literature on this topic. An interpretive description methodology was used, and semi-structured interviews were completed with four participants. The data acquired was analysed using a reflexive thematic analysis to identify key themes. The varied way trauma impacts on participants ability to obtain and sustain employment was shown through the resultant themes of employment being the right fit; managing health and wellbeing; readiness to work; and being able to “work to live, not live to work”. The findings showed that obtaining employment was influenced by: employers’ attitudes; having choice over productive roles; flexibility of hours for accommodating needs; accessing support and applying strategies being offered by services; the ability to work; and developing skills through higher education or volunteering pathways. Functionally sustaining employment was most effective if: the workplace environment was conducive; employers and colleagues’ attitudes were supportive; adequately able to navigate trauma responses for managing wellbeing; contracted hours and task demands were achievable without exceeding these; and work-life balance was achieved through engagement with positive occupations outside of employment. The importance of working to support individuals in a trauma informed way was highlighted, and the results provided expected and unexpected insights into the experiences of four unemployed participants who had experienced trauma. Future research should expand on wider sampling to provide more diversity, as well as more evidence-based guidelines for supporting those who have experienced trauma to return to employment and applying these recommendations into employment settings.
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    A long-term physical activity programme: What keeps them coming?
    (2023) Leathart, Michelle
    The Big Fun Model is a combination of the occupational therapy theory of sensory integration and gymnastics. Big Fun NZ has had athletes attending for upwards of eight years. If a therapy model is used to assess the success of the Big Fun NZ programme it could be seen as a failure due to the length of time that people have been attending the programme. If however a sports model is applied then the Big Fun NZ programme would be thought of as a success due to its long term retention of participants. Objectives: This research project aimed to answer the question 'What maintains/influences people's engagement in Big Fun NZ over an extended period of time and through different life stages?' This is to add to the small amount of literature regarding the factors that foster long-term involvement in physical activity programmes. Method: This research project interviewed seven family groups, usually a dyad of an athlete and their parent/guardian, who have been attending sessions for between 8 and 14 years. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and then analysed using QUAGOL. Results: From the analysis of the interviews consistency and routine were the two factors identified that maintained long-term involvement. With smashing parental assumptions, benefits of physical activity, and enjoyment being the three factors that worked to maintain involvement. The concept of integration versus segregation was also explored. With the participants in this research project preferring the exclusive environment that Big Fun NZ currently operates in. Conclusion: The themes identified in this research project fit into the occupational therapy Do-Live-Well framework. This framework is aimed at improving people’s health and well-being by using a health promotion emphasis rather than an illness emphasis. As a primary and secondary prevention strategy the Big Fun Model falls under health promotion, this categorisation gives clarity and direction to the role of Big Fun New Zealand within the adaptive physical activity community.
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    Occupational therapists in Aotearoa responding to community need
    (2023) Hannah, Grace
    Within occupational therapy, there is an increasing focus on integrating healthcare and community development practices to address issues of marginalisation and social injustice. Occupational therapists recognise their potential contribution to areas of community practice, utilising their occupational perspective to address contextual barriers facing communities, and enhancing opportunities for occupational engagement. The primary aim of this research was to explore how Aotearoa-based occupational therapists respond to the occupational needs of communities and integrate their occupational perspective while working alongside communities. Utilising an interpretive descriptive methodology, interviews were carried out with five participants from a range of locations and communities throughout Aotearoa. Participants were asked to reflect on how their professional background informed the ways they work alongside their respective communities, factors that supported and challenged their practice, and their hopes for the future of community practices. Participating therapists described working with a diverse range of communities, but uniformly identified the ‘doing’ perspective as the unique contribution they made as occupational therapists working in these roles. Participants emphasised how the occupational perspective grounded their professional identity, and enabled them to identify and respond to the different occupational needs present within their communities. The findings revealed that therapists practising in community-responsive roles undergo a process of ‘being,’ ‘becoming,’ and ‘belonging.’ These roles challenge established ideas of what it means to ‘be’ an occupational therapist, and present a range of supports and challenges while ‘becoming’ a therapist who works with communities. Additionally, therapists must navigate where they ‘belong’ within the occupational therapy profession and broader social context. This research has demonstrated how occupational therapists apply their ‘doing’ perspective to empower communities and increase opportunities for participation. It has also shown that validation and support from the occupational therapy profession are essential for these therapists to feel confident and enthusiastic about their unique contributions with Aotearoa communities. Recommendations from this research include raising awareness of community practices, engaging in critical reflection on underlying discourses informing occupational therapy practice and professional identity, and promotion of cultural safety and recognition of te ao Māori. It is hoped that these recommendations will support the development of community-responsive roles within Aotearoa.
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    A scoping review of interventions used with individuals with dyslexia to improve their writing performance
    (2023) Kroger, Raewyn; https://online.op.ac.nz/industry-and-research/research/expertise/search/
    Developmental dyslexia is the common term for the neurobiological disorder known as “Specific Learning Disorder in Reading” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5. It is believed that 14% of students in the United States of America have this diagnosis (Dyslexia Basics - International Dyslexia Association, n.d.). Dyslexia can significantly impact the academic, vocational, social, and emotional aspects of a person’s life, disrupting their meaningful engagement in occupations. Because dyslexia is a complex language disorder with multiple phenotypes and symptoms, no one profession can address all areas of difficulty. Occupational therapists are often brought into interdisciplinary teams in schools to support the writing of students with dyslexia. Historically occupational therapists have worked within a very limited scope, most commonly to address the individual prerequisite components of writing, such as visual motor and perceptual skills, fine motor skills, cognitive and executive function skills, and sensory processing skills (Grajo & Gutman, 2019.) Given the broad range of skills and practice scope that occupational therapists have, and in keeping with the current emphasis on top-down approaches and consideration of how literacy impacts the child's life role as a student, it is time for occupational therapists to consider best practice for occupational therapy interventions in supporting the occupation of transcription for students with dyslexia. Objective A scoping review with narrative synthesis was conducted to ascertain the strategies being used currently to improve the writing of students with dyslexia. The knowledge gained from the review was used to inform the overarching aim of this thesis: To guide occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists working under an interdisciplinary team model in supporting the occupation of transcription for students with dyslexia. Method Articles for this scoping review were identified through a computerised search of five electronic databases accessible by the Otago Polytechnic library: PubMed, ProQuest Central, Taylor and Francis, Cinahl, and ERIC. To ensure current and relevant information was considered, each article's date of publication was within ten years of the current year, 2010 - 2020. The literature search procedure was complimented by manually scanning the reference lists of retrieved articles. This identified two articles outside the inclusion dates. Because these articles were named in multiple reference lists, they were considered relevant and important to current thinking and thus included. Articles were evaluated according to predetermined criteria for inclusion at the title, abstract, and article levels. Seven articles were selected for review. Descriptive content analysis was used to map the current use of strategies and interventions. Results This scoping review identified that the strategy currently used and recommended to improve the writing of students with dyslexia is interdisciplinary team collaboration, including and prioritising the student's family, individualising, and providing explicit multi- component interventions. The necessity of understanding the language and interpretations of other professionals in the field in order to be an effective and respected team member was highlighted. The purpose of this review was to use the new knowledge to guide occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists working under an interdisciplinary team model in supporting the occupation of transcription for students with dyslexia. It is very clear from the findings that it is time for occupational therapists to reconsider their current roles and create the opportunity to increase their functional role in literacy. There is plenty of space in this complex field for occupational therapists to upskill and embrace literacy holistically while remaining within their scope of practice.
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    Coping strategies for the prevention of burnout among occupational therapists: A literature review
    (2023) O'Leary, Andrew; Otago Polytechnic Institute | Te Pūkenga; https://online.op.ac.nz/industry-and-research/research/expertise/search/
    The risk for occupational therapists of burnout in the workplace appears to be increasing. By identifying and implementing effective coping strategies for the prevention of burnout, occupational therapists can maintain their own overall health and well-being. The aim of this study was to identify the coping strategies for reducing the risk and potentially preventing burnout among occupational therapists. A review of the occupational therapy literature from 2010 to 2022 was conducted. A PICO framework was used to develop a research question, a search of online databases was conducted. Relevant literature was identified and screened prior to data extraction and thematic analysis. A total of 20 papers were identified. The two main themes of external and internal strategies were identified as potential coping strategies for the prevention of burnout. Sub-themes included: Professional identity, job satisfaction, supervision, colleagues support, resilience, and mindfulness. The review suggests internal and external coping strategies potentially reduce the risk of burnout for occupational therapists. Minimal evidence was found to demonstrate the effectiveness of coping strategies in clinical practice. Further research is recommended into the longitudinal impact of the identified coping strategies for burnout prevention.