Date of Paper/Work
Type of Paper/Work
Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Purpose/Hypothesis: Opportunities are now available for physical therapists to move onto the global scene as they become involved in disaster relief work in Haiti. There has been a great deal written in the literature on the experiences and roles of health care providers who participate in disaster relief work. There has been less written about the role of physical therapists who engage in international disaster relief work. Not everyone may understand the challenges faced when participating in disaster relief work in Haiti. The purpose of the study is to describe the experience of physical therapists who have engaged in disaster relief work in Haiti. Materials/Methods: Descriptive phenomenological methods were used to analyze interviews of 11 physical therapists on their experiences of engaging in disaster relief work in Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. Data were collected from two interviews with each participant in order to create the general structure of the experience of not-knowing. The interview transcripts were analyzed using the descriptive approach described by Giorgi (1975, 1997) and Dahlberg, Drew, and Nyström (2002). Descriptive phenomenology was used to describe the experience of participating in disaster relief physical therapy work in Haiti. Results: The essence of the experience of physical therapists engaged in international physical therapy disaster relief work was signified by five constituents
that included (a) dealing with emotions: uncertainty and fear (b) facing challenges; (c) education as the key to sustainability; (d) lessons learned (e) being able to articulate the meaning of social responsibility. Conclusions: The structure of participating in disaster relief work as a physical therapist was described as a shocking but rewarding experience which challenges participants to reevaluate their lives and practice of physical therapy. The ability to participate in this type of work seems to enhance the practice of physical therapy back home. By better understanding the physical therapists‟ experience we can better anticipate the kinds of support needed for those who engage in international disaster physical therapy work. We may also better understand the challenge of returning home for those who serve abroad.
Faanes, Erin; Guggenbuehl, Andrea; Johnston, Ellen; Larsen, Katie; and Stien, Crystal, "Experiences of Physical Therapists who Participate in Disaster Relief Work in Haiti" (2012). Doctor of Physical Therapy Research Papers. 14.