Roseann C. Schaaf, Sarah A. Schoen, Teresa A. May-Benson, L. Diane Parham, Shelly J. Lane, Susanne Smith Roley, Zoe Mailloux; State of the Science: A Roadmap for Research in Sensory Integration. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(6):6906360010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.019539
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
This article builds on the work of Case-Smith and colleagues and proposes a roadmap to guide future research in occupational therapy. To foster best practice in the application of principles and practices of sensory integration (SI), the pillars of practice, advocacy, and education are identified as elements that provide the foundation for research. Each pillar ensures that SI research is conducted in a rigorous and relevant manner. To this end, achievements to date are discussed, with proposed goals presented for each pillar. Finally, the roadmap builds on the pillars and outlines implications for occupational therapy with the overarching theme that a wide array of scientists, educators, therapists, and service recipients will be needed to ensure that those who may benefit most have access to intervention that is evidence based, theory driven, and provided within the highest standards of service delivery.
Conduct multisite studies of ASI
Define new research questions emanating from practice
Engage therapists in research-based activities to inform new research questions
Promote and ensure best practices that use theory, evidence, and outcome measurement
Use and evaluate ASI in varied settings, including the home, school, and community
Conduct clinical research that evaluates ASI outcomes at the neural and behavioral levels and links these levels of change with functional performance
Characterize and elucidate mechanisms underlying sensory integrative impairments and apply this knowledge to practice
Define client characteristics (phenotypic characterization) to more precisely tailor individually targeted ASI intervention
Conduct studies to identify the optimal intensity, frequency, and duration of intervention (i.e., dosage) across different clinical groups.
Serve as peer reviewers on selected journals to ensure that knowledge dissemination has high validity and veracity
Serve on boards of professional and community groups that have an interest in ASI to guide decisions regarding reimbursement and service delivery models
Partner with and support various international, professional, and diagnostic-specific organizations to promote and provide information about ASI that accurately reflects the difference between ASI and sensory-based strategies
Increase access to documents that clearly describe ASI to the lay public
Advocate for funding to further study the underlying mechanisms of ASI intervention and expected outcomes
Educate constituents on the role of sensation and sensory–motor abilities as an important foundation for skilled performance of activities and participation in daily life.
Develop appropriate guidelines and materials on core ASI content for occupational therapy curricula
Incorporate education on ASI into occupational therapy educational programs to ensure that entry-level therapists have the needed knowledge and skills to participate in practice and research in this area
Adequately prepare faculty in entry-level occupational therapy programs to teach concepts related to SI and ASI in the curriculum
Widely disseminate information regarding pathways to develop competencies in ASI and provide high-quality continuing education, postprofessional coursework, and direct mentorship from expert practitioners
Support opportunities for development of new researchers through education and mentorship programs, postdoctoral training, and options to work under the direction of funded researchers
Train practitioners in case study and single-subject methodology as a basis for engagement in practice-based research.
Practice: Use the evidence-based procedures available, tap into resources such as the ASI Fidelity Measure (Parham et al., 2011) and the ASI guidebook (Schaaf & Mailloux, 2015), visit sites where research and resources are available, and develop partnerships between clinicians and researchers
Advocate: Access the literature, understand what has been accomplished and what remains to be done, advocate for clients to have the best available SI services, and serve on boards and meet with policymakers to ensure that knowledge about SI is translated into reasonable policies
Educate: Work within existing systems to distinguish between ASI and sensory-based interventions and educate administrators, colleagues, and consumers about the existing research and available knowledge in the field.
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