Free
Research Article  |   July 2005
Occupational Therapy Workforce Needs: A Model for Demand-Based Studies
Author Affiliations
  • Janet M. Powell, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356490, Seattle, Washington 98195; jmpowell@u.washington.edu
  • Sonya L. Griffith, MS, OTR, is Staff Therapist, Ventura County Medical Center, Ventura, California
  • Elizabeth M. Kanny, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Associate Professor and Division Head, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
Article Information
Professional Issues / Professional Workforce and Development Issues
Research Article   |   July 2005
Occupational Therapy Workforce Needs: A Model for Demand-Based Studies
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2005, Vol. 59, 467-474. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.4.467
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2005, Vol. 59, 467-474. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.4.467
Abstract

PURPOSE. To provide a model for assessing occupational therapy workforce needs by using a demand-based approach to determine current workforce status in the Northwest region. Regional information may have implications for addressing national occupational therapy service needs.

METHOD. A questionnaire was sent to a proportional random sample of 234 facilities that hire occupational therapy practitioners. Data were collected in July–August 2003 using structured mailing and follow-up procedures.

RESULTS. Response rate was 79%. Twenty-four percent reported occupational therapy vacancies and 11% occupational therapy assistant vacancies; 48% predicted an increase in occupational therapy positions in the next 2 years and 41% an increase in occupational therapy assistant positions. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported difficulty in hiring.

DISCUSSION. This study identifies an occupational therapy workforce shortage in the Northwest. Management of a shortage is critical, for even short-term adjustments could lead to permanent changes in service provision. This study demonstrates the importance of current information on the status of the national workforce and serves as a model for future studies.