Focusing on the Environment to Improve Youth Participation: Experiences and Perspectives of Occupational Therapists
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The environment plays a key role in supporting children's participation and can serve as a focus of intervention. This study aimed to elicit the perceptions and experiences of occupational therapists who had applied the PREP approach--Pathways and Resources for Engagement and Participation. PREP is a novel 12-week intervention for youth with physical disabilities, aimed at improving participation in leisure community-based activities by modifying aspects of the environment. Using a qualitative post-intervention only design, 12 therapists took part in individual semi-structured interviews, in which the therapists reflected on their experience using PREP to enable participation. A thematic analysis was conducted. Four themes emerged from the data; two of which were informative in nature, describing elements of the PREP intervention that target multi-layered composition of the environment and use strategies that involve leveraging resources and problem solving. The two remaining themes were reflective in nature, illustrating a new take on the Occupational Therapy role and re-positioning the concept of participation in therapy practices. Results emphasize aspects of the environment that can serve as effective targets of intervention, guided by the PREP approach. Findings can broaden the scope and focus of occupational therapy practice by redefining views on participation and the environment.
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