With more than 83% of occupational therapists being white, it is clear there is a lack of diversity within the field (Data USA). This is also obvious when looking at the demographics of occupational therapy clients. Because occupational therapy is often not seen as essential health care which basic insurance and medicaid would cover, only those who can afford it or have better insurance have access to it.
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This leads to marginalized populations and minorities not having access to occupational therapy. This is dangerous as it perpetuates the cycle of expected occupations within these communities. Occupations look different within impoverished, marginalized, and urban settings. Working with children and adolescents in these areas makes these differences apparent because adolescence is when habits such as drug use, study skills, and violence are solidified. Having occupational therapists who specialize in working with these communities and populations could improve positive outcomes, lower incarceration rates, and break cycles of unhealthy occupations such as drug and alcohol abuse.
I chose this topic because my major is in Occupational Sciences and Occupational Therapy. I have an interest in social justice issues which stems from my hometown being St. Louis, Missouri. In St. Louis, discrimination and systemic marginalization are prevalent issues in daily life, especially within the city and impoverished areas. St. Louis is a very segregated city, both racially and socioeconomically, which leads to distinct and polarized lifestyles. These different lifestyles result in different occupations and activities of daily living based on need and habits.
Through this literature review, equity of care across diverse and marginalized groups will be examined. It will look at not only how occupational therapists working in marginalized populations and communities can embrace the differences in the communities, but also how the differences in their clients’ occupations will change their jobs. It will go over six articles from various occupational therapy journals and newsletters that have to do with social justice within health care disparities and resource allocation as well as the meaning of occupation within lower-income and marginalized populations.
Drs. Suzanne M. Peloquin and Beatriz C. Abreu wrote the first article, “Embracing Diversity in Our Profession”, for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in June 2004. Both doctors are professors and researchers at the University of Texas-Galveston and Dr. Peloquin was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Occupational Therapy(AOTA). They have both been cited hundreds of times, making them qualified and trusted within their field.
This article looks at diversity within occupational therapy in a unique way because of its subjective and personal nature. The authors use both personal experiences and professional observations to examine the construction of prejudices against other people and populations who are different from their own environment. This allows them to offer better ways to value uniqueness and support diversity.
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