My Ph.D. dissertation is entitled "Concretizing occupational justice constructs in occupational therapy practice within the substance addiction rehabilitation setting in the Philippines" which was under the supervision of Prof. Nobuo Ohshima. I successfully passed the thesis examination last 19 September 2019 and was conferred my Ph.D. in Occupational Therapy (degree) last 27 September 2019 at the Tokyo Metropolitan University (Japan).
This dissertation consists of five related studies (four of which have been published in peer-reviewed international journals) that were collectively grounded on occupational justice, a concept that conjoins occupational science and occupational therapy. The overall aim of this dissertation is to explore the potentialities of integrating occupational justice principles within occupational therapy practice in Philippine-based substance addiction rehabilitation (SAR) settings. As a result of the empirical studies conducted in the past three years, the following conclusions were formed:
  • Chapter 2: An analysis using the occupational science concepts of form, function, and meaning revealed that illicit drug use, to a certain extent, conforms to Filipino social norms, values, and moral standards. This is demonstrated by the desire of some Filipinos to gain agency, enhance productivity, and increase economic participation by using illicit drugs amid social inequalities and occupational injustices brought about by the intricacies of poverty (Sy, Bontje, Ohshima, & Kiepek, 2019).
  • Chapter 3: Filipino occupational therapists working in SAR practice have a tripartite role: 1) promoter of occupational participation, 2) collaborators to enhance participation and well-being, and 3) facilitators of environmental supporters for occupational participation. These roles are not mutually exclusive and may be performed all together to promote occupational participation during and even after rehabilitation (Sy, Ohshima, & Roraldo, 2018).
  • Chapter 4: A single-case study revealed how the Occupational Justice Health Questionnaire (OJHQ) is a practical tool that can be used by occupational therapists in several ways. Firstly, to identify injustices experienced by Filipino citizens who use(d) illicit drugs. Secondly, to prioritize what occupations can be used to promote occupational participation and justice. Lastly, to open potential collaboration with other professionals, community workers, and agencies in co-creating population-focused SAR programs (Sy & Ohshima, 2018).
  • Chapter 5: Filipino citizens who use(d) illicit drugs follow a chronological pattern framed within four periods of participation: living with drugs, living around rules, and living for the future, and living amidst the war on drugs. Across four periods, injustices were uncovered that activated the first enablement skill “raise consciousness of occupational injustice” from the Participatory Occupational Justice Framework. In this study, we found that while there were injustices experienced by the residents before entering the DTRC, these injustices were not totally eradicated but were replaced by new forms of injustices when they were residing in the DTRC. This primary finding asserted the position of occupational therapy in enhancing local SAR programs through the use of occupation-based social participation interventions, creation of partnerships and collaboration with other professionals and agencies, utilize a participatory approach in discussing and addressing injustices, and deliberate use of political activities of daily living (Sy, Delos Reyes, Roraldo, & Ohshima, 2019).
  • Chapter 6: An autoethnographic approach in analyzing researchers’ field notes revealed an expanded purpose of the OJHQ including potentially enhancing practitioners’ narrative clinical reasoning, enriching clinical data through non-clinical data extracted from the OJHQ, and integrating the documentation of social and justice determinants of health within the healthcare system.
Image by Matthew T Rader

Articulating the form, function, and meaning of drug using in the Philippines from the lens of morality and work ethics

Journal of Occupational Science

Dr. Michael P. Sy, Dr. Peter Bontje, Dr. Nobuo Ohshima, & Dr. Niki Kiepek (2019)

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The role of occupational therapists in substance addiction and rehabilitation: Q-Methodology

Occupational Therapy in Mental Health

Dr. Michael P. Sy, Dr. Nobuo Ohshima, & Ms. Ma. Patricia Nicole R. Roraldo (2018)


Utilizing the Occupational Justice Health Questionnaire with a Filipino drug surrenderee in occupational therapy practice: A case report

WFOT Bulletin

Dr. Michael P. Sy & Dr. Nobuo Ohshima (2018)

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Uncovering the lived experiences of Filipino drug recoverees towards occupational participation and justice through an interpretative phenomenological analysis

Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy

Dr. Michael P. Sy, Mr. Rod Charlie Delos Reyes, Ms. Ma. Patricia Nicole R. Roraldo, & Dr. Nobuo Ohshima (2019)