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Brief Report
Issue Date: January 01, 2014
Published Online: April 15, 2014
Updated: January 01, 2019
Research Opportunities in the Area of Productive Aging
Article Information
Evidence-Based Practice / Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Research Opportunities
Brief Report   |   January 01, 2014
Research Opportunities in the Area of Productive Aging
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2014, Vol. 68, 111-114. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.681003
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January/February 2014, Vol. 68, 111-114. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.681003
Abstract

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Evidence-Based Practice Project has developed a table summarizing the research opportunities in the area of productive aging. The table provides an overview of the state of current available evidence on interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice and is based on the systematic reviews from the AOTA Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines Series. Researchers, students, and clinicians can use this information in developing innovative research to answer important questions within the occupational therapy field.

Planning a research project requires consideration of many factors. Level of interest and knowledge in a specific area, access to appropriate populations of participants, support of mentors and other researchers, and funding availability all help determine the focus of a future project. An additional component to be considered is whether adequate, up-to-date research has already been completed on a topic; if sufficient evidence is available in a given core area, this area might not be the best choice for another research project.
The best research topic may be one in which either little research has been done or the research to date is insufficient, inconclusive, or mixed. In addition, when research conducted to date provides a low level of evidence and is of limited quality, additional high-quality research in the area is needed.
The Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging provides an overview of the state of current available evidence on interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice. The table is based on the systematic reviews from the AOTA Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines Series. The evidence from the reviews is categorized into the themes of instrumental activities of daily living, fall prevention and home modification, and health management and maintenance. Within each theme, the table indicates either that the evidence is sufficient to support an intervention or that moderate, mixed, or few studies support the intervention and therefore it is a priority research area. Please refer to Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Productive Aging for Community-Dwelling Older Adults (Leland, Elliott, & Johnson, 2012) and the American Journal of Occupational Therapy Special Issue on the Relationship Between Occupation and Productive Aging (Leland & Elliott, 2012) for more information on the topic area and the systematic review process.
This table also is posted online for researchers to use to inform the occupational therapy community about their work. The table is linked to Google Drive and offers a place for researchers to include information on recently completed and ongoing research. It is hoped that this information will make the research planning process easier, minimize duplication of research efforts, and stimulate discussions among researchers with similar interests, which can then facilitate the creation of research networks and multisite studies. Researchers, students, and clinicians can use this information in developing innovative research to answer important questions within the occupational therapy field. To add current or ongoing research to the table, visit http://www.aota.org/researchopportunitiestables.
Researchers are also encouraged to enter their projects into AOTA’s Researcher Database at http://myaota.aota.org/research/. This database provides AOTA with information such as relevant clinical settings and populations, International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health level (World Health Organization, 2001), funder (if any), and key words to help guide research advocacy and policy initiatives.
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging×
ThemeDefinitionSpecific InterventionStrength of Evidence
IADLs
Occupation-based and client-centered interventions
 Multidisciplinary interventionsInterventions provided by more than one discipline and targeting several outcomes (e.g., ADLs, IADLs)Home-based multicomponent program (including occupational therapy) in older adults with differing functional abilitiesResearch sufficient
Multidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
 Occupational therapy interventionsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy programs such as Lifestyle RedesignPriority research area
Occupation-centered interventions in the home for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
Functional activity interventions
 Functional task exercise programsExercise involving functional activitiesExercises such as transporting objects and moving objects from differing heights while walkingPriority research area
 Simulated IADL programsActivities designed to mimic the performance of daily functional tasks (e.g., laundry, vacuuming)Simulated IADL programsPriority research area
Performance skills interventions
 Physical activity interventionGeneral or specific exercise programs (e.g., resistance training, aerobics, balance training, flexibility exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, tai chi, general physical activity sessions)Progressive resistance strength training to improve community mobility and meal preparationPriority research area
Physical activity to improve self-efficacy, promote satisfaction with physical function, and increase time spent on activities of moderate or greater intensityPriority research area
Physical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Long-term physical exercise to improve community mobilityPriority research area
Physical activity to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Weight training to improve walking performancePriority research area
 Cognitive skill interventionTraining in memory, inductive reasoning, speed of processingCognitive skill training to improve daily functioning for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
 Interventions for older adults with low visionVision rehabilitationMultidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
Home modification and assistive technologyInterventions related to external physical environments (e.g., home adaptations) and the objects in them (e.g., assistive technology)Home modifications to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Interventions supporting participation in drivingInterventions addressing driving performance skills (e.g., motor, praxis, visual skills) and educationPhysical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Short-term classroom and on-road instruction to improve driving knowledgePriority research area
Visual skills training, community mobility programs, and vehicle adaptations to improve driving performancePriority research area
Fall prevention and home modification
Multicomponent or multifactorial interventionsInterventions that integrate multiple fall risk factors or target specific risk factors. These include home modification, vision management, gait and balance training, and exercise.Multicomponent or multifactorial intervention addressing multiple risk factors to reduce fallsResearch sufficient
Home safety assessment to reduce falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Physical activity interventionsGroup and individual physical activity (e.g., balance retraining, walking, sitting and standing, lower-extremity strengthening, use of workstation format, tai chi)Physical activity (regardless of type) to reduce falls and decrease fall riskPriority research area
Strengthening, balance retraining, and walking plan to reduce falls and injuries for adults age >80 yrPriority research area
Home assessment and home modificationHazard identification; home modifications, including structural changes to the inside and outside of the home; assistive technology and assistive devicesHome modification and adaptive equipment provided by occupational therapy practitioners to reduce functional decline and improve safetyResearch sufficient
Occupational therapy assessment followed by home modification for older adults with a history of fallsPriority research area
Home modification for older adults aging with a disability to reduce perceived difficulty with ADLs and IADLsPriority research area
Home safety assessment to prevent falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Health management and maintenance
Client-centered occupational therapy programsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy to improve physical functioning and occupational performance related to health management in frail older adults and older adults with osteoarthritis and macular degenerationResearch sufficient
Health education programsInterventions to educate older adults about health issuesGroup health education programs led by educators and other health professionalsPriority research area
Self-management programsCollaboration between an older adult and a health care professional to develop a plan for self-management of health on the basis of the client’s goals and preferencesSelf-management health programs individually tailored in conjunction with health professionalsPriority research area
Peer-led self-management programs that include diagnosis-specific information, medication management, and problem-solving skillsPriority research area
Specific performance skill interventionsInterventions to improve specific health-related performance skillsCognitive–behavioral intervention for improving adherence to a physical activity programPriority research area
Cognitive–behavioral intervention for improving sleep in older adults with insomniaPriority research area
Community-based health management program combined with skills training for community-dwelling older adults with severe mental illnessPriority research area
Table Footer NoteNote. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.
Note. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.×
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging×
ThemeDefinitionSpecific InterventionStrength of Evidence
IADLs
Occupation-based and client-centered interventions
 Multidisciplinary interventionsInterventions provided by more than one discipline and targeting several outcomes (e.g., ADLs, IADLs)Home-based multicomponent program (including occupational therapy) in older adults with differing functional abilitiesResearch sufficient
Multidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
 Occupational therapy interventionsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy programs such as Lifestyle RedesignPriority research area
Occupation-centered interventions in the home for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
Functional activity interventions
 Functional task exercise programsExercise involving functional activitiesExercises such as transporting objects and moving objects from differing heights while walkingPriority research area
 Simulated IADL programsActivities designed to mimic the performance of daily functional tasks (e.g., laundry, vacuuming)Simulated IADL programsPriority research area
Performance skills interventions
 Physical activity interventionGeneral or specific exercise programs (e.g., resistance training, aerobics, balance training, flexibility exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, tai chi, general physical activity sessions)Progressive resistance strength training to improve community mobility and meal preparationPriority research area
Physical activity to improve self-efficacy, promote satisfaction with physical function, and increase time spent on activities of moderate or greater intensityPriority research area
Physical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Long-term physical exercise to improve community mobilityPriority research area
Physical activity to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Weight training to improve walking performancePriority research area
 Cognitive skill interventionTraining in memory, inductive reasoning, speed of processingCognitive skill training to improve daily functioning for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
 Interventions for older adults with low visionVision rehabilitationMultidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
Home modification and assistive technologyInterventions related to external physical environments (e.g., home adaptations) and the objects in them (e.g., assistive technology)Home modifications to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Interventions supporting participation in drivingInterventions addressing driving performance skills (e.g., motor, praxis, visual skills) and educationPhysical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Short-term classroom and on-road instruction to improve driving knowledgePriority research area
Visual skills training, community mobility programs, and vehicle adaptations to improve driving performancePriority research area
Fall prevention and home modification
Multicomponent or multifactorial interventionsInterventions that integrate multiple fall risk factors or target specific risk factors. These include home modification, vision management, gait and balance training, and exercise.Multicomponent or multifactorial intervention addressing multiple risk factors to reduce fallsResearch sufficient
Home safety assessment to reduce falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Physical activity interventionsGroup and individual physical activity (e.g., balance retraining, walking, sitting and standing, lower-extremity strengthening, use of workstation format, tai chi)Physical activity (regardless of type) to reduce falls and decrease fall riskPriority research area
Strengthening, balance retraining, and walking plan to reduce falls and injuries for adults age >80 yrPriority research area
Home assessment and home modificationHazard identification; home modifications, including structural changes to the inside and outside of the home; assistive technology and assistive devicesHome modification and adaptive equipment provided by occupational therapy practitioners to reduce functional decline and improve safetyResearch sufficient
Occupational therapy assessment followed by home modification for older adults with a history of fallsPriority research area
Home modification for older adults aging with a disability to reduce perceived difficulty with ADLs and IADLsPriority research area
Home safety assessment to prevent falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Health management and maintenance
Client-centered occupational therapy programsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy to improve physical functioning and occupational performance related to health management in frail older adults and older adults with osteoarthritis and macular degenerationResearch sufficient
Health education programsInterventions to educate older adults about health issuesGroup health education programs led by educators and other health professionalsPriority research area
Self-management programsCollaboration between an older adult and a health care professional to develop a plan for self-management of health on the basis of the client’s goals and preferencesSelf-management health programs individually tailored in conjunction with health professionalsPriority research area
Peer-led self-management programs that include diagnosis-specific information, medication management, and problem-solving skillsPriority research area
Specific performance skill interventionsInterventions to improve specific health-related performance skillsCognitive–behavioral intervention for improving adherence to a physical activity programPriority research area
Cognitive–behavioral intervention for improving sleep in older adults with insomniaPriority research area
Community-based health management program combined with skills training for community-dwelling older adults with severe mental illnessPriority research area
Table Footer NoteNote. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.
Note. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.×
×
Acknowledgments
AOTA acknowledges the work of Matthew Bernardo, Stacia Matthews, and Melissa Stutzbach, who participated in the development of the Research Opportunities tables while they were fieldwork students and emerging leaders at the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, MD. This work is based on the American Journal of Occupational Therapy Special Issue on the Relationship Between Occupation and Productive Aging (Leland & Elliott, 2012) and the Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Productive Aging for Community-Dwelling Older Adults (Leland, Elliott, & Johnson, 2012), all from the AOTA Evidence-Based Practice Project.
References
Leland, N., & Elliott, S. J. (Eds.). (2012). Relationship between occupation and productive aging [Special issue]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(3).
Leland, N., & Elliott, S. J. (Eds.). (2012). Relationship between occupation and productive aging [Special issue]. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(3).×
Leland, N., Elliott, S. J., & Johnson, K. J. (2012). Occupational therapy practice guidelines for productive aging for community-dwelling older adults. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.
Leland, N., Elliott, S. J., & Johnson, K. J. (2012). Occupational therapy practice guidelines for productive aging for community-dwelling older adults. Bethesda, MD: AOTA Press.×
World Health Organization. (2001). International classification of functioning, disability and health. Geneva: Author.
World Health Organization. (2001). International classification of functioning, disability and health. Geneva: Author.×
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging×
ThemeDefinitionSpecific InterventionStrength of Evidence
IADLs
Occupation-based and client-centered interventions
 Multidisciplinary interventionsInterventions provided by more than one discipline and targeting several outcomes (e.g., ADLs, IADLs)Home-based multicomponent program (including occupational therapy) in older adults with differing functional abilitiesResearch sufficient
Multidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
 Occupational therapy interventionsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy programs such as Lifestyle RedesignPriority research area
Occupation-centered interventions in the home for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
Functional activity interventions
 Functional task exercise programsExercise involving functional activitiesExercises such as transporting objects and moving objects from differing heights while walkingPriority research area
 Simulated IADL programsActivities designed to mimic the performance of daily functional tasks (e.g., laundry, vacuuming)Simulated IADL programsPriority research area
Performance skills interventions
 Physical activity interventionGeneral or specific exercise programs (e.g., resistance training, aerobics, balance training, flexibility exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, tai chi, general physical activity sessions)Progressive resistance strength training to improve community mobility and meal preparationPriority research area
Physical activity to improve self-efficacy, promote satisfaction with physical function, and increase time spent on activities of moderate or greater intensityPriority research area
Physical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Long-term physical exercise to improve community mobilityPriority research area
Physical activity to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Weight training to improve walking performancePriority research area
 Cognitive skill interventionTraining in memory, inductive reasoning, speed of processingCognitive skill training to improve daily functioning for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
 Interventions for older adults with low visionVision rehabilitationMultidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
Home modification and assistive technologyInterventions related to external physical environments (e.g., home adaptations) and the objects in them (e.g., assistive technology)Home modifications to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Interventions supporting participation in drivingInterventions addressing driving performance skills (e.g., motor, praxis, visual skills) and educationPhysical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Short-term classroom and on-road instruction to improve driving knowledgePriority research area
Visual skills training, community mobility programs, and vehicle adaptations to improve driving performancePriority research area
Fall prevention and home modification
Multicomponent or multifactorial interventionsInterventions that integrate multiple fall risk factors or target specific risk factors. These include home modification, vision management, gait and balance training, and exercise.Multicomponent or multifactorial intervention addressing multiple risk factors to reduce fallsResearch sufficient
Home safety assessment to reduce falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Physical activity interventionsGroup and individual physical activity (e.g., balance retraining, walking, sitting and standing, lower-extremity strengthening, use of workstation format, tai chi)Physical activity (regardless of type) to reduce falls and decrease fall riskPriority research area
Strengthening, balance retraining, and walking plan to reduce falls and injuries for adults age >80 yrPriority research area
Home assessment and home modificationHazard identification; home modifications, including structural changes to the inside and outside of the home; assistive technology and assistive devicesHome modification and adaptive equipment provided by occupational therapy practitioners to reduce functional decline and improve safetyResearch sufficient
Occupational therapy assessment followed by home modification for older adults with a history of fallsPriority research area
Home modification for older adults aging with a disability to reduce perceived difficulty with ADLs and IADLsPriority research area
Home safety assessment to prevent falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Health management and maintenance
Client-centered occupational therapy programsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy to improve physical functioning and occupational performance related to health management in frail older adults and older adults with osteoarthritis and macular degenerationResearch sufficient
Health education programsInterventions to educate older adults about health issuesGroup health education programs led by educators and other health professionalsPriority research area
Self-management programsCollaboration between an older adult and a health care professional to develop a plan for self-management of health on the basis of the client’s goals and preferencesSelf-management health programs individually tailored in conjunction with health professionalsPriority research area
Peer-led self-management programs that include diagnosis-specific information, medication management, and problem-solving skillsPriority research area
Specific performance skill interventionsInterventions to improve specific health-related performance skillsCognitive–behavioral intervention for improving adherence to a physical activity programPriority research area
Cognitive–behavioral intervention for improving sleep in older adults with insomniaPriority research area
Community-based health management program combined with skills training for community-dwelling older adults with severe mental illnessPriority research area
Table Footer NoteNote. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.
Note. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.×
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging
Research Opportunities Table on Productive Aging×
ThemeDefinitionSpecific InterventionStrength of Evidence
IADLs
Occupation-based and client-centered interventions
 Multidisciplinary interventionsInterventions provided by more than one discipline and targeting several outcomes (e.g., ADLs, IADLs)Home-based multicomponent program (including occupational therapy) in older adults with differing functional abilitiesResearch sufficient
Multidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
 Occupational therapy interventionsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy programs such as Lifestyle RedesignPriority research area
Occupation-centered interventions in the home for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
Functional activity interventions
 Functional task exercise programsExercise involving functional activitiesExercises such as transporting objects and moving objects from differing heights while walkingPriority research area
 Simulated IADL programsActivities designed to mimic the performance of daily functional tasks (e.g., laundry, vacuuming)Simulated IADL programsPriority research area
Performance skills interventions
 Physical activity interventionGeneral or specific exercise programs (e.g., resistance training, aerobics, balance training, flexibility exercise, cardiorespiratory fitness, tai chi, general physical activity sessions)Progressive resistance strength training to improve community mobility and meal preparationPriority research area
Physical activity to improve self-efficacy, promote satisfaction with physical function, and increase time spent on activities of moderate or greater intensityPriority research area
Physical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Long-term physical exercise to improve community mobilityPriority research area
Physical activity to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Weight training to improve walking performancePriority research area
 Cognitive skill interventionTraining in memory, inductive reasoning, speed of processingCognitive skill training to improve daily functioning for community-dwelling older adultsPriority research area
 Interventions for older adults with low visionVision rehabilitationMultidisciplinary vision rehabilitation to improve function in older adults with low visionPriority research area
Home modification and assistive technologyInterventions related to external physical environments (e.g., home adaptations) and the objects in them (e.g., assistive technology)Home modifications to improve IADL performancePriority research area
Interventions supporting participation in drivingInterventions addressing driving performance skills (e.g., motor, praxis, visual skills) and educationPhysical conditioning to improve driving performancePriority research area
Short-term classroom and on-road instruction to improve driving knowledgePriority research area
Visual skills training, community mobility programs, and vehicle adaptations to improve driving performancePriority research area
Fall prevention and home modification
Multicomponent or multifactorial interventionsInterventions that integrate multiple fall risk factors or target specific risk factors. These include home modification, vision management, gait and balance training, and exercise.Multicomponent or multifactorial intervention addressing multiple risk factors to reduce fallsResearch sufficient
Home safety assessment to reduce falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Physical activity interventionsGroup and individual physical activity (e.g., balance retraining, walking, sitting and standing, lower-extremity strengthening, use of workstation format, tai chi)Physical activity (regardless of type) to reduce falls and decrease fall riskPriority research area
Strengthening, balance retraining, and walking plan to reduce falls and injuries for adults age >80 yrPriority research area
Home assessment and home modificationHazard identification; home modifications, including structural changes to the inside and outside of the home; assistive technology and assistive devicesHome modification and adaptive equipment provided by occupational therapy practitioners to reduce functional decline and improve safetyResearch sufficient
Occupational therapy assessment followed by home modification for older adults with a history of fallsPriority research area
Home modification for older adults aging with a disability to reduce perceived difficulty with ADLs and IADLsPriority research area
Home safety assessment to prevent falls in older adults with visual impairmentPriority research area
Health management and maintenance
Client-centered occupational therapy programsInterventions provided by occupational therapy practitioners or within the scope of occupational therapy practiceClient-centered occupational therapy to improve physical functioning and occupational performance related to health management in frail older adults and older adults with osteoarthritis and macular degenerationResearch sufficient
Health education programsInterventions to educate older adults about health issuesGroup health education programs led by educators and other health professionalsPriority research area
Self-management programsCollaboration between an older adult and a health care professional to develop a plan for self-management of health on the basis of the client’s goals and preferencesSelf-management health programs individually tailored in conjunction with health professionalsPriority research area
Peer-led self-management programs that include diagnosis-specific information, medication management, and problem-solving skillsPriority research area
Specific performance skill interventionsInterventions to improve specific health-related performance skillsCognitive–behavioral intervention for improving adherence to a physical activity programPriority research area
Cognitive–behavioral intervention for improving sleep in older adults with insomniaPriority research area
Community-based health management program combined with skills training for community-dwelling older adults with severe mental illnessPriority research area
Table Footer NoteNote. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.
Note. ADLs = activities of daily living; IADLs = instrumental activities of daily living.×
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