Globalizing Rehabilitation Psychology: Application of Foundational Principles to Global Health and Rehabilitation Challenges

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Purpose/Objective: This article reviewed foundational principles in rehabilitation psychology and explored their application to global health imperatives as outlined in the World Report on Disability (World Health Organization & World Bank, 2011). Research Method/Design: Historical theories and perspectives are used to assist with conceptual formulation as applied to emerging international rehabilitation psychology topics. Results: According to the World Report on Disability (World Health Organization & World Bank, 2011), there are approximately 1 billion individuals living with some form of disability globally. An estimated 80% of persons with disabilities live in low- to middle-income countries (WHO, 2006). The primary messages and recommendations of the World Report on Disability have been previously summarized as it relates to potential opportunities for contribution within the field of rehabilitation psychology (MacLachlan & Mannan, 2014). Yet, undeniable barriers remain to realizing the full potential for contributions in low- to middle-income country settings. Conclusions/Implications: A vision for engaging in international capacity building and public health efforts is needed within the field of rehabilitation psychology. Foundational rehabilitation psychology principles have application to the service of individuals with disabilities in areas of the world facing complex socioeconomic and sociopolitical challenges. Foundational principles of person–environment interaction, importance of social context, and need for involvement of persons with disabilities can provide guidance to the field as it relates to global health and rehabilitation efforts. The authors illustrate the application of rehabilitation psychology foundational principles through case examples and description of ongoing work, and link foundational principles to discreet domains of intervention going forward.

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