Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2020

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor(s)

Gina Fox


Caregiving for one’s child is a complex occupation with a wide-reaching impact on an individual’s life (Dieleman, Vlaenderen, Prinzie, & Pauw, 2019). Guardians have unique emotional needs consequent to their caregiving role but receive inconsistent treatment from healthcare professionals (Porfíro Santos Pinto, Duarte Coutinho, & Collet, 2016). This study aimed to understand the perceived psychosocial needs of caregivers of children with cerebral palsy (CP), identify support services for these caregivers and evaluate their effectiveness, and determine how occupational therapists (OTs) can most effectively address these needs. Caregivers of children with CP engaged in semi-structured interviews to explore their perceived needs as well as facilitators and barriers to occupational performance in meaningful life roles. Responses were coded and analyzed for themes and trends and organized through the lens of the Person-Environment-Occupation Model. Participant data showed a sense of obligation to care for their child, pressure to maintain a sense of emotional strength, generational coping differences, and disinclination to utilize support groups. OTs must individualize caregiver interventions to cooperatively address each caregiver’s unique mental health experience.


Senior thesis.