The emerging profession of speech therapy in Vietnam through pioneering eyes
AffiliationAudiology and Speech Pathology
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Marie Atherton
Speech therapy is a new and rapidly growing profession in Vietnam, yet factors shaping its development are not well understood. Previous research in Majority World contexts suggests the emergence of rehabilitation professions may be shaped by a set of shared factors; however, the utility of this information to the Vietnamese context is not known. Further, little is known of the experience of practising a profession embedded with Eurocentric notions of health and disability in different cultural contexts. This doctoral research sought to extend understanding of these issues by exploring how the speech therapy profession is emerging in Vietnam through the experiences of a group of Vietnam’s first speech therapy graduates. This research reports a longitudinal, qualitative study employing participatory research methods conducted across the different cultural settings of Australia and Vietnam. Phase 1 of the research was conducted between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, interviews with 13 of the Vietnamese graduates one year following their graduation supported the development of a model conceptualising their work. In 2014, eight of the graduates were interviewed about their professional practice at two years post graduation. An advisory group of the graduates was also convened at this time to guide the research over its duration. This research phase confirmed the utility of the conceptual model characterising the graduates’ work and drew focus to the complexities that may arise when conducting participatory research in a cross-cultural setting. In Phase 2 of the research, creative research methods were introduced to explore the graduates’ work at three years post graduation. This research phase led to refinement and elaboration of the model conceptualising the graduates’ professional practice. In the final research phase, participants reflected upon their professional journeys in the four years since graduating and upon their participation in the research. This research identified that a diversity of factors is shaping the emergence of the speech therapy profession in Vietnam. Some factors are shared with other countries of the Majority World where the profession is practised; some are unique to Vietnam. Key themes conceptualising the graduates’ work—scope of practice, developing identity, confidence to practise, progressing the profession, and feelings—provide a rich, nuanced understanding of their experiences. This study revealed that the experience of pioneering a new profession in a Majority World context will be shaped by structural, personal, interpersonal, and cultural factors, and that initiatives to introduce the speech therapy profession into novel contexts will best be informed by local practitioners. Learnings from doing participatory research in a cross-cultural context relate to the integral role of the interpreter and engaging in research when the researcher and research participants are separated by language, time, and distance. The use of creative research methods supported the research participants’ experiences to be represented in diverse ways and addressed challenges posed by translation and the potential for misrepresentation of their experiences. This research highlighted that the experience of participating in research will be shaped by personal motivations and learnings that arise from research.
Keywordsspeech therapy; speech-language pathology; speech and language therapy; communication disability; disability; rehabilitation; Vietnam; Majority World; developing country; participatory research; collaboration; visual research methods; creative research methods
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