Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Occupational Therapy International
Volume 2017, Article ID 2179781, 8 pages
Research Article

Exploring Cultural Competence amongst OT Students

Discipline of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Westville Campus, Westville, South Africa

Correspondence should be addressed to Pragashnie Govender;

Received 22 April 2017; Accepted 3 July 2017; Published 9 August 2017

Academic Editor: Kathleen M. Matuska

Copyright © 2017 Pragashnie Govender et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Occupational therapy relies primarily on communication between the therapist and client for effective intervention. Adequate communication may be influenced by language and cultural differences between the therapist and client. Cultural competence in relation to language and culture is thus a vital part in practice. Limited research exists on cultural competence in occupational therapy students. This study thus aimed to explore the cultural competence of final year students and their perceptions of their own cultural competence, with respect to language and culture in their practice as students. An explorative qualitative study design was utilised with a nonprobability purposeful sample of 21 final year undergraduate students at a tertiary institute in South Africa. Three focus groups were conducted, comprising between 6 and 8 students in each group. Thematic analysis using inductive reasoning was undertaken in order to analyse the students’ experiences and understanding of cultural competence. Findings of the study suggest that cultural competence, in relation to language and culture, influences the occupational therapy intervention process. It was shown to both positively and negatively influence intervention through supporting or hindering rapport building, client centeredness, and effective intervention.