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Work ready: an occupational therapy response to the experience of graduate unemployment
Lynch, Maeve
The overall aim of this thesis is to augment the evidence available to occupational therapists working with unemployed people. Unemployment is a pressing and growing social issue and throughout this thesis the important contribution occupational therapy can make to address the wide ranging consequences of unemployment and supporting re-entry to the labour market is considered. This thesis consists of three papers taking a sequential approach to addressing the social issue of unemployment. Although a body of research on interventions for the unemployed is available, it is spread across many disciplines. Paper I synthesises this disperse evidence base in order to draw implications and recommendations for occupational therapy practice with this population. A narrative literature review is presented that aimed to qualitatively appraise research on the topic of prevention or assistance-focused interventions to help individuals find work or improve their well-being whilst unemployed. The review findings support a number of programme elements that should be considered in the design and development of future interventions; a CBT approach, a focus on job search skills and coping resources and a group forum. The paper concludes that unemployment research should be considered as an emerging area of concern and theory development for the occupational therapy profession. In response to the findings of paper I, and building on previous research completed at the University of Limerick, a study was designed to develop and explore an Occupational Therapy programme for unemployed third level graduates; Work Ready. In order to inform the development of the programme and enhance understanding of the occupational consequences of graduate unemployment a qualitative study was conducted. In paper II, the experience of graduate unemployment was qualitatively explored through a conceptual model of occupational therapy practice, the Kawa (river) model. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with eleven unemployed graduates and data was analysed using a deductive approach to thematic analysis. The themes that emerged from the data are based on the four concepts of the Kawa model and provide a rich description of graduate unemployment: life flow; obstruction caused by rocks (finance, negativity and routine); resources that form driftwood (family, friends and personal characteristics); the environment has a multi-faceted influence on participants. In response to these findings occupational therapists are urged to increase their awareness and consider their role in relation to those vulnerable to the effects of graduate unemployment. Building on the findings of paper I and II and previous research conducted at the University of Limerick an intervention programme for unemployed graduates was developed; work ready. In paper III, a qualitative phenomenological research approach was taken to gain an understanding of the lived experience of participation in this occupational therapy intervention, work ready. In total nine unemployed graduates engaged in the programme. Data was collected via focus groups and interviews and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Three themes emerged from the analysis describing how participants changed their perspective, developed new skills, made changes to behaviour and were positively influenced by the group environment. The findings identify many positive benefits of the work ready programme for both mediating the unemployment experience and supporting re-entry to the labour market. Conclusions drawn from this study recommend for the development and rigorous empirical evaluation of preventative occupation-focused programmes with unemployed individuals, and specifically unemployed graduates. The thesis concludes with a discussion where methodological considerations and the thesis findings are deliberated, and implications for practice and research are drawn.
Keyword(s): occupational therapy; unemployment; graduates; intervention; health promotion; Kawa (river) model; quantitative
Publication Date:
Type: Master thesis (research)
Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Language(s): English
Institution: University of Limerick
Publisher(s): University of Limerick
Supervisor(s): Robinson, Katie
Cahill, Mairead
First Indexed: 2014-09-10 05:34:05 Last Updated: 2015-11-04 05:45:18