• THE DOMINO EFFECT: Evaluating Therapeutic Recreation Assessment Tools’ Utility for Persons Experiencing [Dis] abilities

      Salvagna, Jessica; Applied Health Sciences Program
      Assessment tools are part of a systematic process that is needed to provide a comprehensive picture of a client’s ability, performance and/or quality of life. These tools should inspire Therapeutic Recreation (TR) practitioners to reflect on whether our participants are benefiting from our services in the way we think they are benefiting from them (Ellis & Witt, 1986). The purpose of my qualitative research study was threefold. To explore the utility of several selected assessment tools from both the implementer and recipient’s perspective and from a manifest and latent analysis of the clarity and construction of the selected TR assessment tools. Utilization- focused evaluation framework guided this study to better understand which elements within existing assessment tools present a challenge. Three program participants and 26 practitioners participated in the study. The data sets included interview transcripts, focus group summaries of engagement with a “mock” case study, and the tools themselves. Data analysis involved manifest and latent content analyses of the tools, thematic analyses of the interviews and focus group engagement with the case study, and a triangulated comparative pattern analysis across the three data sets. Results indicated five main challenges practitioners experience when administering standardized assessment tools, (1) inconsistencies, (2) language barriers, (3) accessibility, (4) relevance, (5) perspective. Three main themes revealed from the data derived from the target populations, were (1) Fear, (2) Stereotyping and (3) Social Control. This thesis is a gateway for professionals and future researchers to begin a phase of creating new or updating existing TR standardized assessment tools to better meet the needs of ALL the populations we serve. Keywords: Therapeutic Recreation (TR), Assessment Tools, Evaluation, Disability, Mental Health, Barriers, and Utility