Cultural Safety and professional practice in occupational therapy: A New Zealand perspective


  • Marion Gray BOccThy (NZROT), MHSc (Bioethics); PhD Candidate. Kathryn McPherson RN, RM, DipHV, BA(Hons), PhD; Reader in Rehabilitation.

Marion Gray, Department Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, PO Box 7343, Wellington South, New Zealand. Email:


This research examined occupational therapists’ attitudes to Cultural Safety for Maori clients. The main research tool was a semi-structured qualitative research interview. A cross-case analysis method was used to determine the major recurring themes. Thirteen participants with varied occupational therapy training backgrounds were interviewed. Current Cultural Safety education is designed to challenge health professionals’ attitudes towards those culturally different from themselves. Results suggest that maturity and personal experiences had significant bearing on these attitudes. Implications for occupational therapy include implementing a policy that stipulates compulsory Cultural Safety education as part of professional development. Findings may have relevance for other countries where significant ethnic differentials in health service success exist, such as Australia.