Factors that Influence Community Integration of Persons with Physical Disabilities in Post-Conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina as Perceived by Persons with Disabilities
Richan, Elizabeth Anne
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Rationale: Due to the uniqueness of the conflict and post-conflict experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina and limited primary source research, it is unclear to what extent persons with physical disability participate in rehabilitation and other community services. It is uncertain whether persons with physical disability have access to available community programs and services and what role policy, environmental and attitudinal barriers play in community integration and social participation. Objective: The purpose of this study was to understand and describe factors that influence community integration and social participation of persons with a physical disability in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina. Methods: A concurrent embedded mixed methods design was used. Three face to face interviews were conducted and thirteen participants completed written questionnaires adapted from The “KIPA” Clear Direction Strategic Framework: Knowledge-Inclusion-Participation-Access (Edmonds, 2003). Participants had physical disabilities and were recruited through Mojmilo Health Clinic, Centar Za Fizikalnu Theraiji I Rehabilitaciju Community Based Rehabilitation centre and the Clinical Centre University Hospital in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Results: The study identified challenges and barriers encountered when accessing rehabilitation, primary health care, education and other community services and programs. The data suggested that persons with a physical disability perceived that factors associated with knowledge, inclusion, participation, and access are very important to their quality of life. Government policy reform and assistance, employment opportunities, attitudes and awareness, and community understanding emerged as critical factors of acceptance and integration. Conclusions: The study revealed that a complex array of factors influenced the integration of persons living with a physical disability in post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina. Persons with disability indicated the need for individuals and disability groups to collectively advocate for all PWDs in order to voice their goals for integration and social participation. Knowledge, inclusion, participation, and access to health care, education, livelihood, attitude, social participation and advocacy emerged as intrinsic to the successful community integration of persons living with a physical disability.