Title

Interactions between Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Examining Co-occupation Theory

Location

Room C

Start Time

18-10-2013 2:40 PM

End Time

18-10-2013 3:10 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Background: The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the extent that interactions between adults with intellectual disabilities in a day program demonstrate the characteristics of co-occupation outlined in Pickens and Pizur-Barnekow’s (2009) co-occupation theory. These characteristics are shared meaning, shared intentionality, shared physicality, and shared emotionality. Pierce (2009) explained the need to define key aspects of concepts that originate from occupational science and expressed concern that the four characteristics in this theory of co-occupation may not be essential to understanding the construct. This research study is an initial step in testing these ideas.

Method: Teams of two researchers observed the typical group activities in a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities (consumers). When they identified an interaction between two consumers, each researcher wrote detailed observation notes and completed the Volitional Questionnaire observational assessment on one of the consumers. Data saturation was reached after observing 12 interactions between 22 different consumers. Initial data analysis occurred immediately following the observation when the researcher wrote initial impressions of the extent to which each characteristic of co-occupation was demonstrated in the interaction and specific examples to support these impressions. After compiling these initial notes and discussing each interaction, the research team rated shared physicality, intentionality, and emotionality as low, moderate, or high and shared meaning as present or absent for each interaction. These data analysis strategies are consistent with framework analysis that starts with existing categories from a theory (Lacey & Luff, 2007). The researchers also used thematic analysis to develop themes to describe how the consumers engaged in co-occupation. The researchers utilized multiple strategies to increase the trustworthiness of the study including volunteering in the day program prior to data collection, extensive data collection training, triangulation, reflexivity journals, and peer de-briefing.

Results: Shared meaning was present in 11 out of the 12 interactions, and shared meaning appeared to be an essential aspect of co-occupation. Shared physicality and shared intentionality were moderate to high in most of the interactions. Shared emotionality was often high, but when consumers focused on completing a task together, there was less explicit emotional expression. This study provides support for Pickens and Pizur-Barnekow’s theory of co-occupation, but additional investigation is needed regarding shared emotionality.

Contribution to occupational science and education: This study builds on occupational science knowledge regarding co-occupation, a construct that was developed in occupational science. In addition, this study found supporting examples of a theory of co-occupation and identified explicit areas that need further investigation within this theory. This study was a collaborative project between an occupational therapy faculty member and a group of occupational therapy students. The presentation will include information about how to incorporate occupational science research into occupational therapy student research projects including strategies to enhance the rigor of the research.

References

Lacey, A., & Luff, D. (2007). Qualitative Research Analysis. Sheffield: The NIHR RDS for the East Midlands / Yorkshire & the Humber. [online] Available from: http://www.rds-eastmidlands.org.uk/resources/doc_download/8- qualitative-data-analysis.html

Pickens, N. D., & Pizur-Barnekow, K. (2009). Co-occupation: Extending the dialogue. Journal of Occupational Science, 16, 151-156.

Pierce, D. (2009). Co-occupation: The challenges of defining concepts original to occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 16, 203-207.

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Oct 18th, 2:40 PM Oct 18th, 3:10 PM

Interactions between Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Examining Co-occupation Theory

Room C

Background: The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the extent that interactions between adults with intellectual disabilities in a day program demonstrate the characteristics of co-occupation outlined in Pickens and Pizur-Barnekow’s (2009) co-occupation theory. These characteristics are shared meaning, shared intentionality, shared physicality, and shared emotionality. Pierce (2009) explained the need to define key aspects of concepts that originate from occupational science and expressed concern that the four characteristics in this theory of co-occupation may not be essential to understanding the construct. This research study is an initial step in testing these ideas.

Method: Teams of two researchers observed the typical group activities in a day program for adults with intellectual disabilities (consumers). When they identified an interaction between two consumers, each researcher wrote detailed observation notes and completed the Volitional Questionnaire observational assessment on one of the consumers. Data saturation was reached after observing 12 interactions between 22 different consumers. Initial data analysis occurred immediately following the observation when the researcher wrote initial impressions of the extent to which each characteristic of co-occupation was demonstrated in the interaction and specific examples to support these impressions. After compiling these initial notes and discussing each interaction, the research team rated shared physicality, intentionality, and emotionality as low, moderate, or high and shared meaning as present or absent for each interaction. These data analysis strategies are consistent with framework analysis that starts with existing categories from a theory (Lacey & Luff, 2007). The researchers also used thematic analysis to develop themes to describe how the consumers engaged in co-occupation. The researchers utilized multiple strategies to increase the trustworthiness of the study including volunteering in the day program prior to data collection, extensive data collection training, triangulation, reflexivity journals, and peer de-briefing.

Results: Shared meaning was present in 11 out of the 12 interactions, and shared meaning appeared to be an essential aspect of co-occupation. Shared physicality and shared intentionality were moderate to high in most of the interactions. Shared emotionality was often high, but when consumers focused on completing a task together, there was less explicit emotional expression. This study provides support for Pickens and Pizur-Barnekow’s theory of co-occupation, but additional investigation is needed regarding shared emotionality.

Contribution to occupational science and education: This study builds on occupational science knowledge regarding co-occupation, a construct that was developed in occupational science. In addition, this study found supporting examples of a theory of co-occupation and identified explicit areas that need further investigation within this theory. This study was a collaborative project between an occupational therapy faculty member and a group of occupational therapy students. The presentation will include information about how to incorporate occupational science research into occupational therapy student research projects including strategies to enhance the rigor of the research.