An introduction to Cultural Historical Activity Theory as a theoretical lens for understanding how occupational therapists design interventions for persons living in low-income conditions in South Africa

Pam Gretschel, Elelwani L. Ramugondo, Roshan Galvaan


Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is a cogent conceptual tool to guide thinking about, observations of and analyses of what
people do. This article offers an introduction to the basic tenants of CHAT. It describes how CHAT can be applied as a meta-theory in a
case study, which explores the processes by which a group of occupational therapists designed a new occupational therapy intervention
for caregivers of HIV positive children living in low-income conditions in South Africa. Drawing on CHAT this paper proposes that
occupational therapy intervention design could be viewed from a collective and also a historical and socio-cultural perspective. This
allows for the discovery and analysis of the potential enablers and limits to innovative, relevant and critically considered occupational
therapy interventions in the South African context.

Key words: activity theory, occupational therapy, intervention design, HIV/AIDS, children, action research

The South African Journal of Occupational Therapy

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

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