The perceptions and attitudes of health workers towards persons with disabilities in the Bekwai Municipality in the Ashanti Region of Ghana

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Disability is an important aspect of human health because every human being has the potential of being disabled at some point in life. Because of its importance, it is necessary to make disability and its related issues familiar to health workers to improve their understanding of the healthcare needs of persons with disabilities so as to increase access to health care for persons with disabilities. The study evaluated the level of knowledge and perceptions of health workers about persons with disabilities. It also assessed attitudes that are held by health workers towards persons with disabilities as a result of held perceptions about them. The study was quantitative using questionnaires to ascertain the level of knowledge of and attitude towards persons with disabilities. The study targeted all categories of health workers including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The sample size for the study was 155 and included both males and female health workers selected purposively. The findings indicated that respondents’ attitude towards persons with disabilities was somewhat positive. However, their perception of disability was mixed. For example attitudinal assessment of respondents across the hospitals revealed that a little over half of the respondents (55.9%) agreed that ‘persons with disabilities should be helped even when they have not asked for help.’ On the impossibility of preventing disability through medication and early detection during pregnancy, majority of the respondents disagreed. Finally on whether respondents were willing to work with persons with disabilities in the same hospital, the responses across health professions indicated a general agreement of their preparedness to work with persons with disabilities. Health professionals are essential for providing health care for everyone in the country including persons with disabilities who are considered one of the minority and marginalized groups. The findings from the study showed that health professionals within the study area had adequate knowledge on disability related issues which could impart positively on their attitude towards persons with disabilities. Indeed, findings from the study established that the health care workers under consideration had positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities and this is as a result of their experiences which should be maintained and encouraged among all other health care providers.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Community Health, College of Health Sciences In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Science (Disability, Rehabilitation and Development), 2016.