Original Research

Community stakeholders’ perspectives on the role of occupational therapy in primary healthcare: Implications for practice

Deshini Naidoo, Jacqueline Van Wyk, Robin Joubert
African Journal of Disability | Vol 6 | a255 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v6i0.255 | © 2017 Deshini Naidoo, Jacqueline Van Wyk, Robin Joubert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 January 2016 | Published: 28 February 2017

About the author(s)

Deshini Naidoo, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Jacqueline Van Wyk, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Robin Joubert, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Background: Primary healthcare (PHC) is central to increased access and transformation in South African healthcare. There is limited literature about services required by occupational therapists in PHC. Despite policy being in place, the implementation of services at grassroots level does not always occur adequately.
Objectives: This study aimed at gaining an understanding of the challenges of being disabled and the services required by occupational therapists (OTs) in rural communities in order to better inform the occupational therapy (OT) training curriculum. 
Method: An exploratory, descriptive qualitative design was implemented using purposive sampling to recruit 23 community healthcare workers from the uGu district. Snowball sampling was used to recruit 37 members of the uGu community, which included people with disability (PWD) and caregivers of PWDs. Audio-recorded focus groups and semi-structured interviews were used to collect data, which were thematically analysed. Ethical approval was obtained from the Biomedical and Research Ethics Committee of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (BE248/14).
Results: Two main themes emerged namely: firstly, the challenges faced by the disabled community and secondly appropriate opportunities for intervention in PHC. A snapshot of the social and physical inaccessibility challenges experienced by the community was created. Challenges included physical and sexual abuse, discrimination and marginalisation. Community-based rehabilitation and ideas for health promotion and prevention were identified as possible strategies for OT intervention.
Conclusion: The understanding of the intervention required by OT in PHC was enhanced through obtaining the views of various stakeholders’ on the role. This study highlighted the gaps in community-based services that OTs should offer in this context.


Community stakeholders; primary health care; occupational therapy; service implications


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Crossref Citations

1. Identification of occupations in a South African rural less-resourced community
Jennifer Claire McAdam, Denise Franzsen, Daleen Casteleijn
Journal of Occupational Science  vol: 26  issue: 3  first page: 379  year: 2019  
doi: 10.1080/14427591.2019.1614476