The role of occupational therapists in the contexts of a natural disaster: a scoping review
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PURPOSE: To identify and inform the experience and roles of occupational therapists (OTs) in the contexts of a natural disaster. METHOD: This scoping review was conducted via five steps: (1) identify the research question, (2) identify relevant academic articles published between 2000 and 2014 in English, (3) select articles based on the inclusion criteria, (4) chart the data and (5) collate, summarise, and report the results of the selected articles. The results were presented using descriptive numerical and thematic analyses. RESULTS: OTs can prepare a plan for evacuation of people with disabilities and their accommodation before a disaster occurs. Immediately after a disaster, they can provide emergency services for injuries and provide education and training in coping skills for psychological distress via a community-based rehabilitation approach. Consistent services for survivors' mental health and for building the OTs' capacity as part of disaster management are focussed on in the recovery phase. CONCLUSION: The potential roles of OTs across the spectrum of a natural disaster were identified via this scoping review. This review will help OTs to become involved in a disaster management system for vulnerable groups across the three phases of preparedness to, respond to and recovery from a disaster. Implication for Rehabilitation Occupational therapists can be involved in disaster management to prepare for, respond to and recover from a natural disaster. Consistent services for psychological distress are needed for people affected by a disaster to return to normalcy. Community-based rehabilitation (CBR) is an important approach to help a wider group of people respond to a natural disaster in a timely manner.
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