Original Research

The role of occupational therapy in the Solomon Islands: experiences and perceptions of occupational therapists and related health workers

AUTHORS

Hensllyn Boseto1 BOccThy (Hons)

Marion Gray2 PhD, Professor *

Ruth Langmead3 BOccThy

AFFILIATIONS

1 Ecological Solutions-Solomon Islands (ESSI), PO Box 180, Gizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands

2 School of Health and Sport Science, Faculty of Science, Health and Education, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, Qld 4558, Australia

3 School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, WA 6845, Australia

ACCEPTED: 6 July 2019


early abstract:

Introduction: In most Western countries occupational therapy is well established as a crucial aspect of overall health care, however in the developing (majority) world it is still an emerging profession. This paper investigates the role of occupational therapy (OT) in the Solomon Islands by examining the experiences and perceptions of OTs and other rehabilitation health workers who have worked there.

Methods: Using a qualitative research design, participants were recruited using purposeful sampling and data was gathered through in-depth interviews, diary entries and observations of an occupational therapy setting in the Solomon Islands. 10 participants were interviewed.

Results: A significant role in health promoting practices was revealed through the various tasks undertaken by OTs in the Solomon Islands, including influencing health policy and practice broadly through advocacy and education. Challenges relating to geography, cultural, language and resource barriers, professional practice issues were identified. Implications for practice were drawn from the data including the need for culturally safe practice, pragmatism, creativity and practicing across disciplinary boundaries.

Conclusions: Results illustrate a clear role for occupational therapy in promoting health and sustainability of rehabilitation therapy services in the Solomon Islands, which also have relevance throughout Pacific island nations.