Research Article
Issue Date: November/December 1994
Published Online: November 01, 1994
Updated: April 30, 2020
Flow and the Occupational Therapy Practitioner
Author Affiliations
  • Karen Jacobs, EdD, OTR/L, CPE, FAOTA, is Clinical Assistant Professor, Boston University, Department of Occupational Therapy, 635 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Article Information
AOTA Archival Issue / Research
Research Article   |   November 01, 1994
Flow and the Occupational Therapy Practitioner
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 1994, Vol. 48, 989-996.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November/December 1994, Vol. 48, 989-996.
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Objective. This study examined optimal f1ow experience, a form of job satisfaction in occupational therapy practitioners employed at physical rehabilitation facilities in New England.

Method. Factors associated with flow were measured over a 5-day work week with the Experience Sampling Method. Ninety-seven percent of the 90 subject’ responses were analyzed and 43% of the subjects participated in the debriefing interview.

Results. Subjects experienced flow a relatively small amount of the time – an average of 5.24 times in a 5-day work week, with a range of 1 to 12 experiences. Flow was experienced most often (23.6%) when subjects were working with a client in some type of intervention. Perceived autonomy and self-esteem were high during a flow experience. Subjects described their flow experiences as including such moods and attitudes as “alert,” “happy,” “involved,” “creative.” “excited,” “productive,” “accomplished,” “proud.” “good,” “confident,” “positive,” and “challenged,” Conversely, subjects in flow also tended to describe their mood as “tense.”

Conclusion. Retaining occupational therapy practitioners is critical to meeting and increasing the unprecedented demand for health care services. Understanding what causes occupational therapy practitioners to experience flow and how to transform an activity into a flow experience may ultimately improve job satisfaction, productivity, and the retention of practitioners.