Cross-cultural awareness and occupational therapy education

Academic Article


  • Occupational therapy educators across the USA are designing curricula to enhance future therapists' cultural competence, in order to meet the increasing demands of serving clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Curricula based on an experiential learning approach to increase multicultural awareness and sensitivity have been advocated in the literature. This study describes the use of a cultural interview experience with first-year occupational therapy students and the impact of the experience on increasing students' cultural awareness, sensitivity and attitude towards another ethnic group. As part of their course assignment, students were required to interview someone who either originated from another country, or had spent at least 10 years in a foreign country. Most students interviewed international students on campus; the ethnic background of the interviewees was very diverse, and included European, South American, African, Middle Eastern and Asian backgrounds. Forty-two students provided written feedback after their interview. Content analysis showed that more than 70% of the students said the interview had a positive effect on their awareness of another cultural group; and about 45% said the interview had a positive effect on their sensitivity and attitude towards another culture. Some ethnocentric views still existed among some students. It is concluded that experiential learning in the form of interviewing an individual of another ethnic background can have a positive impact on awareness of and, to a certain extent, on sensitivity and attitude toward another cultural group. © Whurr Publishers Ltd.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yuen HK
  • Start Page

  • 24
  • End Page

  • 34
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 1