Occupational Therapy in Haiti: A Pilot Study to Identify Intervention Methods Used during Short-Term Medical Missions

Sheelagh M. Schlegel, Sacred Heart University
Kathleen Mathieson, A.T. Still University

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.



Due to the shortage of occupational therapists (OTs) in Haiti and over 800,000 individuals with disabilities, most occupational therapy assessments and interventions are provided by OTs on short-term medical missions (STMMs). Learning which methods OT use to provide assessments and interventions during these STMMs is the first step to understanding how to facilitate follow-up and carry-over for clients and ensure longevity for STMMs in Haiti. This study used a cross-sectional, descriptive design to gather data on methods used by OTs. Thirty-three OTs, who travelled to Haiti on STMMs, completed a 16-question, online survey. The most common method provided by OTs was education to patients, caregivers, and local providers. Training of Haitian rehabilitation technicians was also prevalent. There was an association between the years of the OTs’ clinical experience and the effort of OTs to train local providers, but this result was not statistically significant. Further research should be implemented on specific methods that can be used in the absence or shortage of Haitian OTs to ensure follow-up for Haitian clients. The sharing of data regarding OT methods on STMMs will promote evidence-based, client-centered, and cost-effective therapy to enhance effective client outcomes.