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Research Article  |   March 1997
Occupational Therapists’ Beliefs and Practices With Regard to Spirituality and Therapy
Author Affiliations
  • Douglas E. Engquist, MS, OTR, is Occupational Therapist, Gaita, Cragin and Associates, Irvine Medical Center, Irvine, California
  • Margaret Short-DeGraff, PhD, OTR, is Professor in Occupational Therapy and Co-Director of Changes, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
  • Jeffrey Gliner, PhD, is Professor of Occupational Therapy, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Kevin Oltjenbruns, PhD, is Associate Professor of Human Development, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / Professional Issues / Research
Research Article   |   March 1997
Occupational Therapists’ Beliefs and Practices With Regard to Spirituality and Therapy
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 1997, Vol. 51, 173-180. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.3.173
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 1997, Vol. 51, 173-180. doi:10.5014/ajot.51.3.173
Abstract

Objective. What is the role of occupational therapists with regard to clients’ spirituality? What activities address spirituality in occupational therapy? Whom do practitioners think should be responsible for helping clients with their spiritual needs? The objectives of this study were to address these and other related questions by validating a previously used questionnaire and establishing a baseline of occupational therapists’ opinions and practices about spirituality and therapy on which future research can be built.

Method. A previously piloted questionnaire was revised to investigate the opinions of 500 U.S. registered occupational therapists about spirituality and therapy. The 54% return rate yielded a sample of 270 respondents.

Results. Nearly 79% of the respondents agreed that the questionnaire accurately measured their opinions about therapy and spirituality. Spirituality is an important part of life for 89% of the respondents, helps 79% with daily job responsibilities, and is viewed as a very important dimension of health and rehabilitation by 84%. However, 63% were either undecided or disagreed that addressing spirituality was within the scope of occupational therapy practice.

Conclusion. In general, the respondents reported that spirituality is important and helpful in their personal lives and a very important dimension of the health and rehabilitation of their clients. However, less than 40% of the respondents indicated that addressing clients’ spiritual needs was within the scope of their professional practice, and the majority (82%) reported that their academic training did not prepare them to address the spiritual needs of clients. The questionnaire, now validated with a national sample, may be used for follow-up studies to further investigate the role of spirituality in health and rehabilitation.