Laura Yvonne Bulk
Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Sciences (PhD)
Being Blind in a Sighted World
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
#GreatSupervisor #UBC and I want to sincerely thank my wonderful supervisor Dr. Tal Jarus for her unwavering support. I have learned so much under her mentorship and I am very privileged to have a very great doctoral supervisor. Thanks so much Tal!
Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects socio-emotional skills. As there is no curative therapy for ASD and traditional interventions are costly, introducing possible complementary programs is warranted. Low-cost gaming programs (e.g., Kinect games) can enable users to communicate with characters on the screen through intuitive ways such as gestures or speech. However, current studies did not tailor the Kinect games to address individual needs of children with ASD.Purpose: The objective of this five-phase study was to design and develop a Kinect program using an integrated knowledge translation approach and participatory design. Method: The first and second phases involved studies that gathered perspectives of 26 stakeholders on: (a) barriers to social participation and priorities for the focus of the Kinect program; and (b) factors that can make virtual reality programs effective to use, employing interviews and focus groups. The third phase was developing and validating the social stories for the content of the program via the modified Delphi method, with 63 stakeholders. The fourth phase was developing and debugging the program in an iterative process with 10 children/youth with ASD and their parents. The fifth phase aimed to uncover barriers in adoption of the technology, helping us to plan for the knowledge translation activities during dissemination. Results: In the first two phases, stakeholders identified the ability of perspective-taking in socio-emotional situations as a critical element to enhance social participation, and highlighted the importance of mirroring real world, addressing heterogeneity, and incorporating teaching strategies in a virtual reality program. In the third phase, they suggested explaining social scenarios and incorporating calming strategies. Adjusting the audio-visual features and strategies to engage users were expressed in the fourth phase. In the last phase, barriers to technology uptake were identified, such as personal belief, suitable technology, and external resources to implement. Implications: This study introduces the development process of a novel program for children with ASD in collaboration with stakeholders. Involving stakeholders during all stages of the development help meet end users’ needs. Future studies are required to provide evidence on the efficacy of this program in improving socio-emotional functioning.
One of the key factors for promoting well-being lies in balancing one's daily life occupations and the nature of these occupations. Yet it is not clear what constitutes occupational balance, and its association to other factors has not been examined systematically. This dissertation proposed and tested a conceptual model for examining well-being from an occupational perspective using structural equation modeling. The proposed model stated the mediating role of occupational characteristics and occupational imbalance in the relationship between personality and well-being. Four studies were conducted in order to develop and test the model. The first three studies explored the measurement aspect of occupational balance and well-being, whereas the fourth study tested the overall model (the relationships among the model constructs). Method: 122 adults completed the Cross Impact Matrix (CIM) of the Personal Projects Analysis (PPA) to measure occupational balance; the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS); the Positive Affect Negative Affect Scales, and the Self-Rated Health scale to measure well-being (study 1). As no correlation was found between well-being and occupational balance, measured by the CIM, a pilot sample (n=24) completed the same instruments, except occupational balance was measured using an alternative tool, the Inter-goal Relations Questionnaire (IRQ). Results indicated that occupational balance and occupational imbalance were two distinct dimensions that should be measured separately using unipolar scales. This led to additional studies while examining occupational imbalance using the IRQ and focusing on one aspect of well-being (life satisfaction). 288 adults completed the IRQ (occupational imbalance), the PPA Rating Matrix (occupational characteristics), the Big Five Inventory (personality traits) and the SWLS (well-being). Results supported the unidimensional structure of occupational imbalance (study 2) and well-being (study 3); whereas, the overall tested models were partially confirmed (study 4). Occupational characteristics served as significant mediators between personality and well-being, yet occupational imbalance did not. Conclusion: the quality of occupations is what is important to well-being, rather than the way individuals balance them. These findings are in line with very recent and innovative theories for viewing balance. New lines of inquiry are suggested to further explore the concept of occupational balance and its effect on well-being.
Introduction:Many individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) experience long term or life-long changes in social participation and quality of life, including social isolation, loneliness, reduced involvement in social and leisure activities, decreased social support networks and reduced satisfaction with life. There are few community-based interventions available to address these issues, and little research on their effectiveness. The brain injury drop-in centre (BIDC) is an innovative model of long-term support not yet addressed in the literature.Purpose:(a) To determine if there is a relationship between social participation and subjective quality of life (SQOL) for community-dwelling individuals with TBI.(b) To compare social participation and SQOL for individuals with TBI who attend BIDCs with individuals who do not attend but who have been identified as potentially benefitting from attending.Methods:Subjects. Participants were 23 individuals recruited from BIDCs (‘BIDC group’) and 19 individuals recruited through community-based clinicians and service providers (‘Comparison group’). The Comparison group was found to consist of 7 participants who stated that maybe they would attend a BIDC but for the most part were too busy to attend (‘Maybe group’), and 12 participants who stated that yes they would attend but were not aware of BIDCs or experienced a contextual barrier to attendance (‘Yes group’).Design. A cross sectional design was implemented with convenience sampling. Results:The correlational analysis (Chapter Two) showed statistically significant associations involving SQOL and the social and subjective measures of social participation. The comparison study (Chapter Three) found the BIDC group to have, on average, higher levels of SQOL and social participation than the Comparison group, in particular as compared to the Yes group. Conclusions:This exploratory study contributes to the TBI literature in showing that it is the more subjective and not objectively measured nature of participation that is associated with SQOL. Findings provide tentative support that attendance at BIDCs may benefit social participation and SQOL. This study provides a foundation for more rigorous quantitative investigation of the effectiveness and efficacy of BIDCs, as well as direction for qualitative studies to further explore social participation, SQOL and the experience of attending BIDCs.