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Problem: This research study aims to understand the lived experience of cleft lip and palate (CLP) on mental health, social participation, and leisure to answer the research question: what is the occupational impact of CLP on mental health, social participation, and leisure activity?

Methods: A qualitative mixed methods research design —34 participants for the survey and 12 interviewees. The interviews were conducted through Zoom and lasted 1 hour. This study used thematic analysis to create themes.

Results: 85% of individuals with CLP experienced bullying, all individuals with CLP stated that their mental health was affected because of CLP, and 59% of individuals with CLP had difficulty maintaining or making friends. The three themes identified are occupational deprivation out of the individual’s control, psychosocial impact of CLP, and supporting contextual factors.

Conclusion: CLP affects each individual differently. Some experience more occupational deprivation/disruption than others, but overall, CLP has negatively affected many individuals as a whole. CLP affects their access to occupations, their mental health, and how they perceive or are perceived by others. With the help of support groups, including family and friends, individuals with CLP can create meaningful relationships with others, improve social participation, and have access to opportunities for other leisure occupations.

Publication Date

Winter 12-8-2022


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Cleft Lip, Cleft Palate, Social Participation, Mental Health, Bullying, Self-Help Groups, Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy | Psychiatry and Psychology


Poster presented at he Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences December 8, 2022

Occupational Therapy’s Role in Cleft Lip and Palate Treatment



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