Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


The history, scope, and practice of occupational therapy are taught in many parts of the world using western perspectives. Recently, occupational scientists have explored occupation-based education, including the extent to which occupation is central in occupational therapy programs and the mechanisms of teaching occupation. This study explores how western ideologies have influenced occupation-based education in Ghana by examining the teaching and practice of occupational therapy. We conducted a qualitative study using purposive sampling to recruit four participants from the first four cohorts of practitioners. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Our analysis yielded three main themes: Power, participants described power dynamics inside and outside the field of occupational therapy that influenced how occupational therapy was taught and practiced in Ghana; Knowledge, participants described the focus of the foundational knowledge they received as largely theoretical, with limited practical knowledge of the Ghanaian context; Being, participants described how their experiences shaped their occupational identities. Additional themes included: Globalization and Cultural Assimilation, and Occupational Consciousness. Occupational therapists in Ghana are directly affected by the systemic injustices that have plagued their communities since the colonial era. Their existence in a formerly colonized country affects how much they can pursue personal and professional interests. Practitioners and scholars from formerly colonized and marginalized groups need to be empowered to embrace their identities and practice meaningfully. The ‘burden’ of decolonizing occupation-based education should not be left to the ex-colonized because coloniality goes beyond the scope of occupational science and occupational therapy.


Joana Nana Serwaa Akrofi, OTD, OTR/L is a Ph.D. student in the Occupational Therapy Department at NYU Steinhart. Her research focuses on developing culturally-attuned occupational therapy interventions for historically marginalized and under-resourced disability populations.

Amber Angell, PhD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, at the University of Southern California. Her research centers on reducing disparities in autism diagnosis and services among underserved groups.

Bright Gyamfi, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of California San Diego. His research sits at the intersection of West African and African Diaspora intellectual history, nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Black internationalism.

Stefanie Bodison, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor, in the Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Public Health and Health Professions, at the University of Florida. Her research uses multimodal neuroimaging methods to investigate the neural correlates of sensory processing as a foundation for developing sensorimotor and social-emotional skills in children.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.