Community outcomes of occupational therapy service learning engagements: perceptions of community representatives

Elize Janse van Rensburg, Tania Rauch van der Merwe, Mabel Aletta Erasmus


Background: Service learning is used as an educational approach in many undergraduate occupational therapy programmes in South Africa and the rest of the world. Evidence for the impact of occupational therapy service learning engagements in communities, from the perspectives of community partners, is limited.
Aim: The purpose of this study was to describe the perceptions of community representatives regarding the outcomes of occupational
therapy service learning engagements.
Methods: A descriptive qualitative enquiry design was used. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight purposively sampled community representatives and analysed using inductive qualitative content analysis.
Results: This paper reports on the theme related to community outcomes of occupational therapy that emerged from the data, consisting of seven categories, namely: (1) increased knowledge and skills, (2) attitudinal change leading to practice reform, (3) increased access to resources and infrastructure, (4) enhanced community connections, (5) enhanced confidence and dignity, (6) enhanced occupational participation, and (7) non-realisation of partnership goals.
Conclusion: The findings of the study demonstrated that although there were some instances in which partnership goals were not
realised, occupational therapy service learning engagements contributed to occupational enablement, occupational justice, health and
well-being for community members.

Key words: Service learning; occupational enablement; community engagement; community-based practice; community-based education.



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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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