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Research Article  |   August 1992
An Occupational Therapy Life Skills Curriculum Model for a Native American Tribe: A Health Promotion Program Based on Ethnographic Field Research
Author Affiliations
  • Patricia DeMars, MA, OTR, is an Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Department, College of St. Catherine, Randolph and Cleveland, St. Paul, Minnesota 55105. She is a part-time clinician in psychosocial clinical practice and a consultant in community program development. She is also continuing graduate work in Anthropological Native American Indian Studies and Theology, focusing on cross-cultural perspectives of wellness and healing
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / School-Based Practice / Practice
Research Article   |   August 1992
An Occupational Therapy Life Skills Curriculum Model for a Native American Tribe: A Health Promotion Program Based on Ethnographic Field Research
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 1992, Vol. 46, 727-736. doi:10.5014/ajot.46.8.727
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 1992, Vol. 46, 727-736. doi:10.5014/ajot.46.8.727
Abstract

A unique, nontraditional occupational therapy role focusing on primary prevention, community health promotion, and enhancement for a nonpatient population is examined. The purpose of this ongoing consultancy project was to develop a series of life skills and prevocational programs for an ethnic population of native Americans from elementary school through high school and post-secondary adulthood levels in British Columbia, Canada, from 1986 to 1990. This consultancy evolved from a philosophy of renewing and preserving the culturally distinct ethnic heritage and tribal integrity of this native American community.

Knowledge about sociocultural systems theory, anthropology, and developmental cognitive-behavioral learning theories are combined with ongoing clinical experience in psychosocial occupational therapy practice and consultancy principles to develop life skills and an educational, community-based prevention/wellness educational program model. Subsequent modifications of the original model, with consultancy recommendations for implementation of future programs, are based on tribal members’ feedback and concerns elicited with psychosocial and ethnographic interviewing techniques during villager community meetings. The replicability of this primary prevention and wellness life skills program model offers numerous possibilities for occupational therapists to develop similar programs within the cultural contexts and perceived needs of specific ethnic groups in other nontraditional community-based settings.