Hand health for all: do undergraduate occupational therapy hand curricula respond to the call?

Kirsty van Stormbroek, Helen Buchanan



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2310-3833/2017/vol48n3a2

South African Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2018; 48 (3): 3-11

Introduction:  The call for higher education curricula to be responsive to the South African context is growing louder. Injuries to the hand are common in South Africa and intervention is often provided by novice occupational therapists who may work in complex practice contexts with limited supervision. Comprehensive hand health practice addresses both the biomedical and occupational dimensions of the human hand. Undergraduate education programmes should be responsive to this reality in preparing graduates adequately for hand practice. This article describes the content of hand curricula within occupational therapy undergraduate programmes in South Africa with the purpose of considering how they prepare graduates for the practice realities they may face during community service.

Methods:  A descriptive cross-sectional survey design was used with an online questionnaire aimed at determining the nature and extent of hand curricula presented in South African undergraduate occupational therapy programmes (n=8). Data were analysed using Stata 12.

Results: Time allocated to hand impairments varied considerably across universities. While assessment of biomedical performance components were taught by all universities, the occupational perspective was limited. The range and number of hand conditions and treatment modalities that were taught also varied.

Findings are discussed against the contextual realities of practice in South Africa, primary health care policy, and national and international minimum standards for the education of occupational therapists. Core aspects of a hand curriculum are proposed as a means to enhance comprehensive hand health practice.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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