Importance: Rehabilitation researchers and occupational therapy practitioners frequently conduct projects that involve the provision of services or the dissemination of knowledge in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); however, the needs assessment process underlying these transcultural projects is often underreported.
Objective: To identify a comprehensive set of feeding-related training needs that reflect the culture, resources, and service delivery practices in the West Bengal region of India and that will be used to develop video-based training modules that are contextually relevant and support decentralized training of community-based rehabilitation workers and caregivers of children with cerebral palsy (CP).
Design: Mixed methods design using focus groups and observations.
Setting: Community setting in rural, suburban, and urban locations in West Bengal, India.
Participants: Caregivers of children with CP and community-based rehabilitation workers with experience working with children with CP.
Outcomes and Measures: Focus groups and in-home mealtime observations.
Results: Several findings suggest training priorities that were not anticipated. Caregivers commonly fed children by means of hand feeding while sitting on the floor. Children were fed a limited variation of food consistencies, often in positions of neck hyperextension. Water was frequently used to stimulate swallowing. Caregivers struggled to help children with oral hygiene practices after meals.
Conclusions and Relevance: A thorough needs assessment yielded insights that can favorably alter the trajectory of transcultural service and research projects. For occupational therapists who provide advice on practice, continuing education, or research in a transcultural project, the findings underscore the value of engaging local stakeholders and using firsthand observation.
What This Article Adds: The rigorous, multistakeholder needs assessment process described herein can serve as a road map for researchers and occupational therapy practitioners conducting transcultural projects in LMICs.