Perceptions on transitioning from impairment-based to occupation-based practice in public healthcare within KwaZulu-Natal




holistic healthcare intervention;, rehabilitation personnel, ICF model, social model of disability, personal and contextual barriers and faciliators, occupation-based practice, impairment-based practice


Introduction:Holistic healthcare service delivery requires rehabilitation personnel to consider all the components of health that influence the client's quality of life. However, there is limited literature on approaches to implementing rehabilitation services within South African public healthcare. This study explored rehabilitation personnel's (such as occupational therapists, speech therapists, physiotherapists) use of occupation-based practice impairment-based practice and the barriers and facilitators associated with their practice choice.

Methods: A qualitative research design was conducted through semi- structured interviews (13 participants), a focus group (4 participants) and community mapping. Purposive sampling was utilised to select participants in the iLembe district, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Data were analysed using deductive thematic analysis.

Findings: Three themes emerged from the study; Attitudes towards impairment-based practice, Reflections on OBP, and The way forward. The need to focus on all the components of health rather than just the disease and the benefits of using the occupation-based practice approach were highlighted. Additionally, different factors required to implement holistic rehabilitation services and the barriers to OBP were identified.

Conclusion: Although the study identified OBP benefits, various barriers associated with its implementation were identified. Rehabilitation personnel, community stakeholders, and clients must work together to improve OBP implementation in public healthcare by combating the barriers identified in the study.

Implications for practice

This study has implications for rehabilitation service implementation in the iLembe district public healthcare sector. OBP was perceived to have more quality of life and health outcomes, which leads to implications for practice. There is a need to transition from the medical model with approaches only focusing on body structures and functions into approaches that consider all the components of health, such as the OBP. Even  though  there  are  barriers  towards  OBP  implementation, rehabilitation personnel can still promote its implementation through inter-professional practice, continuous professional development and health promotion. Furthermore, there are implications for undergraduate programmes to equip undergraduates with the skills to implement OBP within under-resourced facilities.



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How to Cite

Gumede, P. L., Christopher, C. J., & Naidoo, D. (2024). Perceptions on transitioning from impairment-based to occupation-based practice in public healthcare within KwaZulu-Natal. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 54(1), 63–73.



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