by Carey A. Goldenberg, MSOT OTR/L
With globalization bringing individuals around the world closer together through technology, travel, and politics, understanding diverse populations is essential for culturally aware practice. The purposes of this study were to explore community participation of children with disabilities, caregiver satisfaction with community participation, and possible barriers to and facilitators of community access in the Republic of Georgia, a country where published research on health care is scarce.
Survey methodology along with qualitative strategies were implemented. Surveys were distributed to 146 Georgian families with children with disabilities, who sought neurodevelopmental services from a urban health care clinic. Qualitative methodologies included, participant-observer, focus group interview, and field notes.
Overall response rate for both groups was 77% (N = 113), of which 50 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Caregivers reported that participation was greatest in activities within their immediate community. Close to half of all children had not attended school, markets, festivals, sports, or arts activities in the community. Caregiver satisfaction levels were significantly correlated with participation with greater participation in recreation and education. Severity of disability level was also significantly correlated with recreation and education participation when compared to typical peers. Parents identified friends, health professionals, and religious establishments as the most facilitative factors. Cultural factors around information access, caregiver roles, and past socio-political influences were identified as factors influencing access and participation.
Understanding current access and participation of children with disabilities in the Republic of Georgia can help to influence policy, programs and services in a country newly introduced to occupational therapy.