Feeling like a stranger: negotiations with culture as experienced by Chilean occupational therapists

Daniela CASTRO DE JONG, Synneve Dahlin-Ivanoff, Lena Martensson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Background: Although occupational therapy has begun to focus on the subject of culture, few studies have examined how occupational therapists outside the English-speaking countries reflect on it. Aim: To explore how Chilean occupational therapists reflect on their personal and professional experiences in regard to the complexity of culture, and its different understandings and expressions. Methods: This qualitative study uses content analysis to establish common trends in participants’ experiences. A validation phase and data triangulation were implemented to ensure trustworthiness. Results: Culture is experienced as a continuous negotiation in personal and professional terms. One central theme, ‘negotiating through the dynamism of culture’, and three categories, ‘dealing with power’, ‘understanding local and global identities’, and ‘crossing the boundaries into the client’s land’, emerged. These experiences are complex, chaotic, and highly context-dependent. Discussion: During therapeutic encounters, practitioners and clients may experience cultural barriers even if their differences are not obvious in cultural terms. As a result of this finding, we recommend the inclusion of culture and cultural issues in professional training. The impact of a multicultural research team is discussed. Future research should explore how the construct of culture is introduced in occupational therapy professional training in Chile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-436
Number of pages12
JournalScandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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