January 31, 2017

Communication disability in Fiji: Community cultural beliefs and attitudes

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication:
Hopf, S. C., McLeod, S., McDonagh, S., & Rakanace, E. (2017, in press). Communication disability in Fiji: Community cultural beliefs and attitudes. Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development.
Here is the abstract:
Aim: Beliefs about communication disability vary according to cultural context and influence people’s attitudes and help-seeking behaviour. Little is known about Fijians with communication disability or the communities in which they live. Fijian specialist services for people with communication disability are yet to be established. Understanding Fijian beliefs about the causes of communication disability and people’s attitudes to people with communication disability may inform future service development.
Methods: An interpretivist qualitative research paradigm and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework informed this project’s design. Scenarios of adults and children with communication disability were presented to 144 participants, randomly sampled across multiple public spaces in two Fiji cities. Thematic analysis of responses to 15 survey questions revealed participant beliefs about the cause and attitudes towards people with communication disability.
Results: Three clusters describing perceived causes emerged from the analysis: internal, external, and supernatural. Major clusters across child and adult scenarios were similar; however, response categories within the scenarios differed. Community attitudes to people with communication disability were predominantly negative. These community attitudes influenced individual participants’ beliefs about educational and employment opportunities for Fijians with communication disability.
Conclusion: Determination and acknowledgement of individuals’ belief systems informs development of culturally appropriate intervention programs and health promotion activities.