Title

The Influence of Occupational Engagement on the Lived Experience of Resilience Among Women who Lived in Poverty During Childhood

Location

Rock Island

Start Time

18-10-2014 1:45 PM

End Time

18-10-2014 2:15 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

The Influence of Occupational Engagement on the Lived Experience of Resilience Among Women who Lived in Poverty During Childhood

Nedra Peter, BSc, Msc, PhD student Western University. npeter2@uwo.ca

Donna Dennis, BScOT, MA. Lecturer Western University.

Janice Polgar, BScOT, MAOT, PhD. Associate Professor Western University.

Background: Resilience is a dynamic process through which positive adaptation to life situations is achieved despite adversity. With respect to poverty, resilience involves a range of protective processes that enables a person to adapt or adjust to disadvantageous circumstances. Social integration is an external influence on resilience achieved through engagement in relationships and activities with others. Social integration provides increased social support and social contact and the opportunity to participate in valued occupations and thereby may contribute to a sense of being, belonging and identity. However there is little focus in the literature about how integration influences the resilience of youth living in poverty.

Objectives: The aim of the main study was to investigate the influence of social integration on resilience to the adverse effects of poverty. This research paper focuses on the contribution that occupational engagement makes to resilience.

Design and Methods: This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Data were collected through retrospective methods. Seven women who lived in poverty during childhood participated in semi-structured interviews lasting 60 to 90 minutes. Data were analyzed through thematic analysis informed by van Manen (1990, 1997).

Results: Three main concepts were identified by the participants: the challenges of living in poverty, the impact of poverty, and the adaptations made due to living in poverty. In relation to occupational engagement, participants experienced stigma resulting in exclusion from and rejection for participation in many occupations. Two themes represented the influence of occupational engagement through social integration in the broader community. The theme finding sources of support describes the occupations participants engaged in to support their development of powerful identities. The theme gaining social capital represents the participants’ engagement in occupations with other members of the community in ways that were mutually beneficial for the wellbeing of those involved.

Implications/Importance to building Occupational Science: Integration in specific social opportunities provided a context for participation in meaningful occupations void in other areas of the participants’ lives. Occupations performed with others who shared similar life experiences helped participants develop a feeling of belonging and created a shared meaning of these occupations. Engagement in social occupations fostered purpose in life, the opportunity to exercise choice and enhanced self-worth; which collectively support being resilient. These findings suggest further research into the nature of shared occupations and resilience of women who grew up in poverty.

Keywords: Resilience, Social Integration, Occupational Engagement

References

Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching lived experience: Human science for an active sensitive pedagogy. London, Ontario: The Althouse Press.

Van Manen, M. (1997). Researching lived experience: Human Science for an action sensitive pedagogy. London, Ontario: The Althouse Press.

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Oct 18th, 1:45 PM Oct 18th, 2:15 PM

The Influence of Occupational Engagement on the Lived Experience of Resilience Among Women who Lived in Poverty During Childhood

Rock Island

The Influence of Occupational Engagement on the Lived Experience of Resilience Among Women who Lived in Poverty During Childhood

Nedra Peter, BSc, Msc, PhD student Western University. npeter2@uwo.ca

Donna Dennis, BScOT, MA. Lecturer Western University.

Janice Polgar, BScOT, MAOT, PhD. Associate Professor Western University.

Background: Resilience is a dynamic process through which positive adaptation to life situations is achieved despite adversity. With respect to poverty, resilience involves a range of protective processes that enables a person to adapt or adjust to disadvantageous circumstances. Social integration is an external influence on resilience achieved through engagement in relationships and activities with others. Social integration provides increased social support and social contact and the opportunity to participate in valued occupations and thereby may contribute to a sense of being, belonging and identity. However there is little focus in the literature about how integration influences the resilience of youth living in poverty.

Objectives: The aim of the main study was to investigate the influence of social integration on resilience to the adverse effects of poverty. This research paper focuses on the contribution that occupational engagement makes to resilience.

Design and Methods: This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Data were collected through retrospective methods. Seven women who lived in poverty during childhood participated in semi-structured interviews lasting 60 to 90 minutes. Data were analyzed through thematic analysis informed by van Manen (1990, 1997).

Results: Three main concepts were identified by the participants: the challenges of living in poverty, the impact of poverty, and the adaptations made due to living in poverty. In relation to occupational engagement, participants experienced stigma resulting in exclusion from and rejection for participation in many occupations. Two themes represented the influence of occupational engagement through social integration in the broader community. The theme finding sources of support describes the occupations participants engaged in to support their development of powerful identities. The theme gaining social capital represents the participants’ engagement in occupations with other members of the community in ways that were mutually beneficial for the wellbeing of those involved.

Implications/Importance to building Occupational Science: Integration in specific social opportunities provided a context for participation in meaningful occupations void in other areas of the participants’ lives. Occupations performed with others who shared similar life experiences helped participants develop a feeling of belonging and created a shared meaning of these occupations. Engagement in social occupations fostered purpose in life, the opportunity to exercise choice and enhanced self-worth; which collectively support being resilient. These findings suggest further research into the nature of shared occupations and resilience of women who grew up in poverty.

Keywords: Resilience, Social Integration, Occupational Engagement