Andrew W. Pearl, Alexandra R. Brennan, Tiffany I. Journey, Kayla D. Antill, James J. McPherson; Content Analysis of Five Occupational Therapy Journals, 2006–2010: Further Review of Characteristics of the Quantitative Literature. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(4):e115–e123. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.009704
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© 2020 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. To analyze the content of publications in 5 occupational therapy journals to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the literature base from 2006 to 2010.
METHOD. A content analysis for 2006 through 2010 of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT), Australian Occupational Therapy Journal (AOTJ), British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT), Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy (CJOT), and Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy (SJOT) was completed.
RESULTS. AJOT and SJOT had the highest percentage of articles focusing on physical disabilities, whereas a majority of articles in AOTJ, BJOT, and CJOT focused on education. SJOT published articles with the highest median number of participants in all research designs excluding descriptive studies. The majority of the research articles were descriptive for all journals.
CONCLUSION. From 2006 to 2010, AJOT provided stronger evidence conducted at higher levels than the other journals by publishing more articles investigating interventions used to support clinical practice.
To determine which journal published the most research articles and the type of articles published, we asked, What is the percentage of research-based articles in each journal, and what is the percentage of quantitative mixed-method studies published in each of the 5 journals?
Analysis of the area of interests most published by each journal can determine whether each journal had a different focus. Therefore, we asked, What is the percentage of articles published concerning pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health, physical disabilities, community-oriented treatment, developmental disabilities, education, and sensory processing?
Portney and Watkins (2009, p. 21) suggested that research designs might be considered on a continuum from descriptive (describing populations) to exploratory (finding relationships) to experimental (cause and effect). We categorized research designs and asked, What types of research designs were most frequently published?
More recently, evidence-based practice guidelines have been proposed to classify the strength of evidence for particular treatment approaches (MacDermid & Law, 2008). We reviewed the research in each of the journals that tested treatment efficacy in an effort to determine what levels of evidence were published in the literature over the 5-yr span.
Ottenbacher (1982) demonstrated that sample size in many studies in occupational therapy had insufficient numbers of participants to provide adequate power and avoid Type 2 error. Ottenbacher (1984) and Portney and Watkins (2009, p. 423) stated that sample size often does not provide the power necessary to find statistical significance in occupational and physical therapy research. Although sample size is not the only variable that affects power, we examined the number of participants used in each journal for quantitative studies to determine whether sample size might be an issue in the literature and because different experimental designs would require larger or smaller sample sizes.
Our study analyzed the literature base in five prominent occupational therapy journals over a 5-yr span (2006–2010). We found that 11% of all quantitative and mixed-method articles tested treatment efficacy in these journals over the 5-yr period. AJOT accounted for the highest percentage of articles testing treatment efficacy with the highest levels of evidence. However, the majority of the research articles used descriptive designs for all journals.
We suggest a continued emphasis on evidence-based practice within our profession and our educational curriculum.
A study of this nature could be conducted over each 5-yr span to assess our profession’s progress toward building a strong evidence base to reach Holm’s (2000) goal.
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