The role of Occupational Therapy in Africa: A scoping review

Julia Jansen-van Vuuren, Christiana Okyere, Heather Michelle Aldersey

Abstract


Objective: This scoping review explores the role of occupational therapy in African countries including major practice areas, specific
activities within practice areas, and potential considerations unique to the African context.
Method: Two authors independently reviewed articles from online database searches and manual searches of reference lists and specific
Occupational Therapy journals using a combination of keywords related to ‘Occupational Therapy’, ‘Africa’, and ‘role’. Articles were
included based on pre-determined eligibility criteria (i.e., peer-reviewed, English articles that describe occupational therapists’ tasks/
activities) and discussion to reach consensus. The authors charted data through content analysis of the articles based on the review’s
objectives prior to drawing out common themes relevant to the African context.
Results: Thirty-two articles were included covering twelve African countries, though predominantly focused on South Africa. Findings
demonstrate that, despite having tasks specific to practice areas, the overarching role of occupational therapy is facilitating engagement
in meaningful occupation. Additionally, the findings highlight a vital role for African therapists in community-based services and the need
to consider the unique cultural context in practice.
Conclusion: Congruent with universal occupational therapy principles, Occupational Therapy in Africa aims to facilitate engagement
in meaningful occupation, but therapists should consider their unique cultural context to ensure meaningful and sustainable outcomes
whilst maintaining a valuable universal identityObjective: This scoping review explores the role of occupational therapy in African countries including major practice areas, specific activities within practice areas, and potential considerations unique to the African context.

Key words: Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapists, Africa, role, culture, community-based


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

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