Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Is Independence Overrated? Conceptualization of Familial Interdependence in the Latino Population
Author Affiliations
  • Independent consultant
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Is Independence Overrated? Conceptualization of Familial Interdependence in the Latino Population
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505152. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO5022
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505152. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO5022
Abstract

Date Presented 4/8/2016

Familial interdependence is a concept that may not be familiar to many therapists. This study explored ways in which familial interdependence affects dynamics of caregiving in Latino families. Study results yield practical recommendations to improve quality of care when treating Latino older adults.

Primary Author and Speaker: Simon Levin

Contributing Author: Christina Martinez

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the notion of familial interdependence as it is perceived by older Latinos. This study further considered the significance and implications of the concept of familial interdependence for occupational therapy practice in the United States.
BACKGROUND: Historically, occupational therapists (OTs) in the United States have been largely a homogeneous group, consisting predominantly of White women of middle to high income. However, OTs serve an array of clients who are as ethnically and culturally diverse as the U.S. population. This situation may create discrepancies in values and beliefs between therapists and clients.
One of the core concepts of occupational therapy is the notion of independence in activities of daily living. However, the importance placed on independence may not be shared by some ethnic minority groups, who may, instead, place a higher value on familial interdependence. Different worldviews may result in fundamental misunderstandings between clients and therapists, producing negative effects on quality of care for our clients.
This study renders a deeper insight into the meaning of familial interdependence and considers the effect this may have on the dynamics of caregiving in Latino families.
DESIGN: This study used a phenomenological qualitative design focused on familial interdependence within a particular culture.
PARTICIPANTS: The Latino population was chosen for this study because it is the largest and one of the fastest growing ethnic minority groups in the United States. Participants were recruited at an adult day care center. Prospective participants were prescreened by facility staff according to the following inclusion criteria: self-identify as Latina/o, had a primary caregiver in the immediate family, and had no significant cognitive limitations. Six participants were chosen: 3 women and 3 men, all age 55 and older. All procedures were approved by the Utica College institutional review board.
DATA COLLECTION: The researcher conducted six semistructured interviews, consisting of open-ended questions that focused on participants’ perceptions of their relationships with caregivers and members of their immediate family. Interviews were conducted in Spanish via a translator. The interviews were overtly audio recorded.
ANALYSIS: English interpretations of the interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded. Codes were compared and contrasted within each participant, as well as across each of the other five interviews. Themes were created on the basis of the analysis of the codes.
RESULTS: Thematic analysis revealed two notable themes: (1) the process of familial interdependence, focused on care-receiving by the interviewees, with subthemes of familial restriction of independence, attitudes to current and future caregiving, and community mobility, and (2) participants’ perceptions of greater cohesiveness of Latino families, as compared with their perceptions of non-Latino (typical American) families.
DISCUSSION: The results support the notion that familial interdependence is a fundamental value for Latinos. Familial interdependence is in sharp contrast to traditional American values of personal independence and general disfavor of reliance on children for care in later years.
In light of this discord of cultural values, the author suggests that therapists engaged in treating Latino elders place importance on considering the immediate family (or the group of caregivers) as a single unit of care.
IMPACT STATEMENT: By the end of the next decade, Latinos will comprise almost a quarter of occupational therapy clientele. This proposal makes practical recommendations to improve quality of care when treating Latino elders.