Caitlin G. Dobson OTR/L
Faculty Mentor: Alison M. Cogan PhD, OTR/L
Research Lab: Rehabilitation and Functional Recovery Studies in Health Services (ReFReSH)
Year of Entry: 2023
My research interests have been informed by my practice as a home health occupational therapist in the California Central Valley from 2018 to 2023. My work in Dr. Cogan’s lab has focused on Medicare policy changes and disorders of consciousness among patients with brain injuries. I am especially interested in how health policy affects occupation, particularly among individuals who have conditions with unpredictable, nonlinear, or lengthy recovery times. I am also interested in narratives describing how transitioning to another social context or role affects social participation and the occupational challenges that arise.
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)
2017 | University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
2010 | University of West Georgia
Dobson, C. G., Selingo, L. A., & Stoffel, V. C. (2023). Using Photovoice to understand the meaning of social participation as it impacts student veterans’ transitions. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 39(1), 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1080/0164212X.2022.2081649 Show abstract
Student veterans may find reintegration into civilian life difficult, largely due to social factors. This study used occupational therapy practitioners to facilitate photovoice to gain insight into participants’ social experiences transitioning from military to student civilian life. Fifteen photovoice pieces were generated from discussions, photos, and narratives from the seven male participants. Five themes were identified: Camaraderie, Alienation, Identifying Challenges, Rising to the Challenges, and Diversity and Military and Veteran Students. The study has disseminated the photovoice pieces to generate awareness and shape programs and services on campus consistent with a respectful, radically welcoming, military-affirming campus supporting student academic success.
Keywords. Higher education; social support; military students; community-based participatory action research; personal narratives
Dobson, C. G., Joyner, J., Latham, A., Leake, V., & Stoffel, V. C. (2021). Participating in change: Engaging student veteran stakeholders in advocacy efforts in clinical higher education. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 61(3), 339–364. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167819835989 Show abstract
Two independent research teams led by graduate students from clinical disciplines studied the lived experiences of student veterans transitioning from the military into higher education. Additionally, these projects provided graduate students with training in the research process, application of evidence-based practice in preparation for professional responsibilities and advancement, and collaboration with student veteran stakeholders as coinvestigators and project team members. One study piloted a student veteran orientation course with the aid of veteran stakeholders to better address the overall needs of student veterans on campus. The other study engaged student veteran participants as coinvestigators using the photovoice methodology to illuminate their perspectives on social relationships. Findings in each study added greater depth to previously discovered trends, and revealed insights into student veteran educational priorities, the impact of the transition process on social roles and relationships, graduate research project design, and community advocacy. This study added insight into the factors that affect student veterans’ higher education experience, which can be used to inform future studies conducted at the graduate level, examine interdisciplinary approaches to research and advocacy, amplify the voice of student veterans, and encourage interaction in research between civilian and veteran students.
Polfuss, M., Dobson, C., Sawin, K. J., & Klingbeil, C. G. (2019). The influence of a developmental disability on the child’s weight-related behaviors: A parent’s perspective. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 47, 121–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2019.05.009 Show abstract
Purpose. To examine the parent's perspective on how the child's diagnosis of a developmental disability, the weight-management support of the healthcare provider and parental self-care and role modeling influenced the child's weight-related behavior, (i.e. nutrition, physical and sedentary activity).
Design and methods. This qualitative study, guided by Bronfenbrenner's Ecological System's Theory, used a one-on-one semi-structured telephone interview conducted with 15 parents of children 5–16 years of age with spina bifida or Down syndrome. Interviews were professionally transcribed and thematically analyzed. In addition, parents reported height and weight for themselves and their child.
Results. Three overarching themes within the context of how the child's diagnosis influenced the child's weight-related behaviors emerged: 1) Developmental Characteristics or Condition-Related Factors captured qualities of the child's condition and interactions with the healthcare system; 2) Social Consequences encompassed the influence of the diagnosis on relationships of the child and family members; and 3) Parenting Influences and Practices captured three types of responses including parent perceptions of the diagnosis, parenting behaviors, and parental self-care behaviors, each influencing the child's weight-related behaviors.
Conclusions. Parents illuminated the social and medical challenges that the family encountered due to the child's diagnosis. These challenges directly and indirectly influenced the child's physical and sedentary activity and nutritional intake. Although challenges were present, the strength and determined attitudes of the families became apparent.
Keywords. Developmental disability; Obesity; Family; Nutrition; Physical activity