Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Lavonne Fox


Cultural Competency -- education; Occupational Therapy -- education


"The need for culturally skilled occupational therapists (OTs) has been documented for years" (Wittman & Velde, 2002). In 2009, Cherry, Kitchens, Nicholson, Soden, Tomkiewicz, Kedia & Shah found that 32.8% of their respondents did not know about the demand for culturally competent occupational therapy (OT) services and cultural factors that could influence a client's occupational performance. Of this group 55-85% rated themselves as having limited awareness.

The purpose of this proposed study was to assess the effectiveness of the University of North Dakota (UND) OT multicultural course in preparing graduates toward cultural competence. The assessment was then compared to the literature to identify gaps in the course’s preparation of OT graduates. A retrospective, causal non-experimental survey design was used to gather data to answer the research question. A multi-dimensional survey was created and distributed. An online survey allowed the researcher to reach a wide range of potential participants that met the inclusion criteria. The survey allowed the researcher to identity key strengths and weaknesses within the OT 451 course and learn about the general attitudes of the participants who took the course. The University of North Dakota Occupational Therapy Alumni from graduating classes 2009-2013 were surveyed to evaluate the effectiveness of the OT 451 course in preparing students to become culturally competent practitioners.

The results of the research provide evidence that the course OT 451: Multicultural Competency in Occupational Therapy does provide effective education on cultural competency. The use of interactive activities and multiple teaching strategies is beneficial in the learning process. The results of this study have a significant benefit for the UND OT department to be able to identify activities and teaching strategies that enable cultural competency growth and generalization. This will strengthen the students learning. It is believed that the UND OT students will enter the workforce able to more implement culturally sensitive interventions. It will contribute to the literature on the effective and ineffective strategies and activities for a more systematic teaching of cultural competence.

There are also limited consistent research outcomes related to developing or measuring cultural competence knowledge for occupational therapy students and clinicians. It is anticipated that the results of this study will add to the emergent body of literature intended to identify and improve the educational preparation of occupational therapy students toward becoming more culturally competent.