CEC Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven Terrell

Committee Member

Dennis Wissing

Committee Member

Marlyn Littman

Abstract

Approximately one third of the population of Louisiana is African American. According to federal reports, Blacks in Louisiana receive a poorer quality of healthcare compared to the White population. Occupational therapy is a profession of predominately White, middle class females who report in surveys that they are not adequately prepared to provide culturally sensitive care to minorities. Leaders in occupational therapy have suggested instruction in cultural competency as a way to remediate the gap in quality of healthcare services for African Americans. This pilot study examined the efficacy of providing thirteen Louisiana occupational therapists with an immersive cultural experience in the virtual 3D world of Second Life in an effort to bring about increased sensitivity towards the African American culture. The study employed a pre-test, post-test case study design using the Race Argument Scale and the Race Attitude Implicit Association Test as outcome measures. Analysis of quantitative post-test data indicated that some participants had negative attitudes towards African Americans that might affect interactions with minority clients and that the instruction in cultural competency did not significantly change these attitudes. Examination of the qualitative data collected during the instructional intervention supported this conclusion, although many occupational therapists stated that the intervention increased their awareness of the effects of discrimination on the health of African Americans.

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