May 28, 2017

Communication disability in Fiji: Community self-help and help-seeking support

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication and forms part of Suzanne's PhD:
Hopf, S. C., McLeod, S., McDonagh, S., Wang, C., & Rakanace, E. (2017, in press May). Communication disability in Fiji: Community self-help and help-seeking support. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.
Here is the abstract:
Purpose: To understand how a Fijian community support people with communication disability and whether their support is associated with participant demographics.
Method: Thematic analysis of 144 questionnaires that asked about participants’ actions to support a fictional child and adult with communication disability.
Result: Participant responses fell into two categories: what they would do directly (self-help) and people and places where they would seek assistance (help-seeking). Self-help behaviours included: making a change to their own communication style or mode; trying to change their own and others behaviour; teaching new skills; praying; changing the physical environment; seeking information independently; assessing or observing; and, using traditional medicine, western medicine, or traditional belief practices. Help-seeking behaviours included seeking help from: other community members; education professionals; a professional in another country; spiritual leaders; traditional belief practitioners; traditional medicine practitioners; western health care practitioners; or, alternative provider (e.g. home, orphanage, nursing home). Younger participants and those of iTaukei Fijian ethnicity were more likely to seek help from other community members.
Conclusion: This Fijian community is actively supporting PWCD within available support networks. Development of speech-language pathology services for people with communication disability living in similar communities should harness the informal knowledge within these networks.