WHY DO PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO ACCESS LOW VISION REHABILITATION SERVICES?

Title WHY DO PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO ACCESS LOW VISION REHABILITATION SERVICES?
Author, Co-Author Walter Wittich, Kenneth Southall, Olga Overbury
Topic
Year
2008
Day
Thursday
Program Number
85200
Room
Affiliation
McGill University, Neuroscience
Abstract PURPOSE: Low Vision Rehabilitation has been shown to effectively improve the ability to cope with vision loss. Affected individuals can regain visual function, mobility skills as well as improve their psychological adjustment. However, some patients choose not to access these services. The present investigation aimed to determine how people who refuse to access Low Vision Rehabilitation differ from those who avail themselves of these services.

METHODS: A mixed-method approach, using both quantitative and qualitative techniques compared 55 participants who knew about rehabilitation but chose not to go with 239 individuals who underwent rehabilitation. The quantitative analysis focused on variables such as depression, visual functioning, coping quality, as well as demographic characteristics, such as living distance from the service agencies and age. The qualitative analysis employed a series of focus groups during which a subsample of participants were discussing awareness and benefits of Low Vision Rehabilitation.

RESULTS: The two groups only differed on their measure of visual function (VF-14), whereby individuals who went through rehabilitation has significantly lower scores, p < .001, η2 = .08. The qualitative findings indicated that the stigma of utilizing a service with the words "blind" or "Braille" in the title deterred numerous eligible patients, since they did not identify as being part of such a marginalized group.

CONCLUSIONS: The difference in visual functioning indicates that persons who are still able to conduct themselves more effectively may not perceive rehabilitation as beneficial or necessary (yet). In addition, the perception of rehabilitation as a service for those who are severely impaired or blind forms an important psychosocial barrier towards access. Individuals who underwent rehabilitation described overcoming their pride in order to regain their social participation.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Financial Support provided by the CIHR (STG # ??), the Reseau Vision/FRSQ, the INLB and MAB-MacKay Rehabilitation Center.
Affiliation of Co-Authors University of Montreal, University of Montreal
Outline