Communication disability in Fiji: Community self-help and help-seeking support

Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod, Sarah H. McDonagh, Cen Wang, Epenisa N. Rakanace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To understand how a Fijian community supports people with communication disability (PWCD) and whether their support is associated with participant demographics. Method: Thematic analysis of 144 questionnaires that asked about participants’ actions to support a fictional child and adult with communication disability. Result: Participant responses fell into two categories: what they would do directly (self-help) and people and places where they would seek assistance (help-seeking). Self-help behaviours included: making a change to their own communication style or mode; trying to change their own and others’ behaviour; teaching new skills; praying; changing the physical environment; seeking information independently; assessing or observing; and, using traditional medicine, western medicine, or traditional belief practices. Help-seeking behaviours included seeking help from: other community members; education professionals; a professional in another country; spiritual leaders; traditional belief practitioners; traditional medicine practitioners; western health care practitioners; or, an alternative provider (e.g. home, orphanage, nursing home). Younger participants and those of iTaukei Fijian ethnicity were more likely to seek help from other community members. Conclusion: This Fijian community actively supports people with communication disability within available networks. Development of speech-language pathology services for people with communication disability living in similar communities should harness the informal knowledge within these networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-568
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number5
Early online date06 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Grant Number

  • FT0990588


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