Empowering caregivers of children with disabilities in Zambia: A photovoice study

Paula Rabaey, Renee Hepperlen, Hayley Manley, Amanda Ament-Lemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Importance: Families with a child or children with a disability (CWD) living in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are a marginalized population experiencing multiple contextual factors within a social model of disability that contribute to decreased occupational participation. Objective: To understand the advocacy messages that caregivers of CWD, living in an LMIC, wanted their community to learn about CWD. Design: Photovoice methodology was used with 10 parents of a CWD. Photographs, accompanying narratives, and focus group session transcripts were analyzed using Wang and Burris’s (1997) original Photovoice technique. Setting: Urban subdistrict of Lusaka, Zambia. A community venue was used for the focus group, and the community photograph exhibition occurred in the subdistrict. Participants: Ten parents of a CWD living in an urban subdistrict of Zambia who were currently participating in a community-based program, Kusamala+, which addressed stigma in the community and supported parents of children with disabilities through training. Results: Three themes were revealed: (1) “our children with disabilities should be shown love,” (2) “our children with disabilities should be well taken care of,” and (3) “our children with disabilities need help because they have different needs.” Conclusions and Relevance: The findings indicate that a social disability model lens and participatory action research can be used to reveal occupational injustices that hinder parents’ engagement in caregiving for their CWD in a marginalized community. Use of visual methodologies can be a powerful advocacy tool for marginalized populations. What This Article Adds: Our findings suggest that occupational therapists can better understand, and provide services to, families living in marginalized communities by using a social model of disability as a framework for evaluation and service provision. By highlighting issues of occupational injustice, occupational therapists can advocate for and empower communities of people with disabilities who face stigma and discrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7504180030
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this study was provided by the GHR Foundation, in the form of a GHR Innovative Scholarship Grant, and a University of St. Thomas Graduate Research Team grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. All rights reserved.


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