Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Lavonne Fox


Cultural Competency -- education; Emigration and Immigration; Occupational Therapy -- methods; Occupations; Refugees; Unemployment


Problem: As of October 2016, over 65.3 million people have been displaced from their home due to civil wars and civil unrest; 21.3 million of this population are refugees and this number continues to grow (UNHCR, 2016). Due to the nature in which people become refugees and experience trauma, both physically and mentally, there is a rising need for health professionals to be culturally competent and well equipped to work with this population. The vast majority of refugee populations face barriers some of which include being forced to adapt to a new home environment, social isolation, language barriers, and ultimately decreased engagement in valued occupations, which leads to occupational deprivation (Smith, Cornelia, & Williams, 2014). As refugee populations are continuing to grow in the United States, the direct services occupational therapy practitioners and occupational therapy students provide for refugees continues to increase (Smith, Cornelia, & Williams, 2014). Currently, there is no published manual or guide for occupational therapy students or occupational therapy practitioners to aid in providing services geared toward meeting the needs of refugees.

Methodology: A literature review as conducted on topics related to the needs and problems of refugee populations moving and living in the United States. The literature supported the need for the development of a resource to guide for occupational therapy practitioners and occupational therapy students who work with refugee populations. The literature provided a foundation for the development of an evidence based comprehensive manual for working with refugee populations.

Results: Occupational therapists (OTs) are well suited to work with refugees because many issues they are facing are occupation based. Individuals are limited in refugee camps as to the type of occupations they can engage in which results in occupational injustice. Occupational injustice occurs " ... when participation in occupations is barred, confined, restricted, segregated, prohibited, underdeveloped, disrupted, alienated, marginalized, exploited, excluded, or otherwise restricted," (Kronenberg & Pollard, 2005, p. 66). The A Home Away From Home: An Occupational Manual for Working with Refugee Populations will function as an evidence based resource guide for occupational therapy students and occupational therapy practitioners to meet the needs of refugee populations in health care and community based settings.