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Issue Date: July 01, 2015
Published Online: February 09, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2020
Exploring the Role of Occupational Therapy in Serving Teen Parents
Author Affiliations
  • Berlin, Massachusetts
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia
Article Information
Multidisciplinary Practice / Occupational Therapy Practice Framework / Professional Issues / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   July 01, 2015
Exploring the Role of Occupational Therapy in Serving Teen Parents
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510141. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO5080
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July 2015, Vol. 69, 6911510141. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.69S1-PO5080
Abstract

Date Presented 4/17/2015

This study explored the occupational performance of teen parents to assess whether their needs fell into the occupational therapy scope of practice. Former teen mothers and community stakeholders were interviewed; findings reveal emerging themes that fall within the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process.

SIGNIFICANCE: Although teen pregnancy is on the decline in the United States, rates are still significantly higher than other industrialized nations. Teen mothers are more likely to develop birth complications than their older peers, and children of teen parents are more likely to experience developmental, learning, and behavioral difficulties than children of adult parents. The reasons behind this are complex but are arguably routed in the day-to-day activities in which these families engage. The purpose of this research is to explore whether and how occupational therapy could address the needs of teen parents and their families.
INNOVATION: This preliminary study suggests that occupational therapy could play a valuable role in addressing the needs of teen parents and their families. It is or recommendation that occupational therapy practitioners become more involved in community-based programs as well as expand their role in current settings (especially schools and early intervention [EI]) to include this nontraditional population. Occupational therapy practitioners are able to address occupational performance of the teen and the child with the context of their co-occupations, roles, and routines. To date, most teen parent programs focus primarily on the academic achievement (high school graduation) of teen mothers but may lack opportunities to address household management, financial management, parenting skills, and vocational training. There is a need for occupational therapists (OTs) to become advocates for teen parents and their families to provide development opportunities for the teen and the child.
APPROACH: Research questions include the following: (1) What factors affect the occupational performance of teen parents and their families? (2) What are the strengths and needs of teen parents and their families? (3) Do these needs fall under the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process? (4) What services do existing programs provide? (5) Is there a potential role for OTs in helping these families meet their occupational needs?
There is currently little involvement of occupational therapy with teen parenting programs. Given OTs’ focus on occupations, roles, and routines, we could provide a valuable dimension of care and advocacy for teen parents and their families.
METHOD: This study used a mixed-methods qualitative design and semistructured interviews to gain insight into the lived experiences of teen parents and the resources available to them. Interviews were conducted at convenient locations for the participants. This study was conducted as an academic requirement at James Madison University for completion of the authors’ master’s degree in occupational therapy.
Participants included 4 women more than 18 yr of age; 2 were former teen parents, 1 was a sister of a teen mother, and 1 was a professional who worked in a teen parent program. The researchers designed a semistructured interview that was examined for validity by two experienced OTs. NVIVO software was used for open coding and triangulation to discover emerging themes.
CONCLUSIONS: The following themes emerged: community support, teen’s occupations and roles, family support, education, and child development. Results reveal needs that fall within the occupational therapy scope of practice, suggesting that OTs have the knowledge base and skill set that would contribute to a collaborative multidisciplinary team serving teen parents in the community.