Original Research

Lessons learned from an occupational therapy programme needs assessment

Solomon M. Abebe, Reshma P. Nuri, Jasmine A. Montagnese, Rosemary M. Lysaght, Terry Krupa, Carol Mieras, Yetnayet S. Yehuala, Setareh Ghahari, Dorothy Kessler, Klodiana Kolomitro, Beata Batorowicz, Anushka Mzinganjira, Solomon F. Demissie, Nebiyu Mesfin, Heather M. Aldersey
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 12, No 1 | a699 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v12i1.699 | © 2024 Abebe, S.M., Nuri, R.P., Montagnese, J.A., Lysaght, R.M. Krupa, T., Mieras, C. et al. | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 May 2023 | Published: 29 February 2024

About the author(s)

Solomon M. Abebe, Department of Human Nutrition, Institute of Public Health, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
Reshma P. Nuri, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Jasmine A. Montagnese, Department of Health and Wellness, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Rosemary M. Lysaght, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Terry Krupa, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Carol Mieras, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Yetnayet S. Yehuala, Department of Health Promotion, Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada; and Department of Health Education and Behavioral Sciences, Institute of Public Health, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
Setareh Ghahari, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Dorothy Kessler, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Klodiana Kolomitro, Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Beata Batorowicz, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Anushka Mzinganjira, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
Solomon F. Demissie, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada; and Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
Nebiyu Mesfin, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia
Heather M. Aldersey, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada

Abstract

Background: A needs assessment identifies the differences between actual and ideal situations to facilitate the development of a new programme or improve existing services.

Objectives: This article shares our experiences conducting the needs assessment in a context where people had limited or no understanding of the need being assessed.

Method: Adhering to a three-phase model – comprising pre-assessment, assessment, and post-assessment – we employed diverse data collection methods, including quantitative survey, qualitative interviews, and environmental scan.

Results: The findings underscored the necessity of expanding rehabilitation services in Ethiopia, with a shift from a purely medical focus to addressing issues associated with daily functioning and community engagement. These issues align closely with the core expertise and responsibilities of occupational therapists. Participants expressed support for the introduction of occupational therapy in Ethiopia and willingness to incorporate the practice of occupational therapists in their settings. The challenges encountered were how to ask about occupational therapy when it is not well known by members of the local population and how to introduce the profession without biasing participants’ responses.

Conclusion: Conducting a needs assessment was critical to developing occupational therapy services in Ethiopia. We welcome others to learn from our experiences.

Contribution: This manuscript details the assessment process and delves into the challenges we encountered and lessons learned. It extends methodological suggestions to inform future evaluations and contributes valuable insights to the broader discourse on needs assessment and programme development in a context where people have limited awareness of services, such as occupational therapy.


Keywords

disability; needs assessment; rehabilitation; occupational therapy; programme development.

JEL Codes

I14: Health and Inequality; I18: Government Policy • Regulation • Public Health; I23: Higher Education • Research Institutions

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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