Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Community-Based Occupational Therapy for Adults With Disabilities
Author Affiliations
  • University of Kansas Medical Center
  • University of Kansas Medical Center
Article Information
Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Community-Based Occupational Therapy for Adults With Disabilities
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505098.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505098.

Date Presented 4/7/2016

Occupational therapy possesses complementary ideologies similar to community-based settings, yet the profession is not well recognized within community practice. Our study indicates the value of occupational therapy and the multiple roles occupational therapists may serve in community-based settings serving adults with disabilities.

Primary Author and Speaker: Anna Wallisch

Additional Author and Speaker: Evan Dean

  1. To determine the value and roles of occupational therapy in community-based settings with adults with disabilities.

  2. To determine how administration and direct support staff perceive the role of occupational therapy (OT) in a community-based setting.

RATIONALE: The value of occupation for health and well-being are foundational to our practice, but our viewpoint is not well recognized within the realm of community health (Moll et al., 2013). According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (2010), approximately 102,500 occupational therapists currently practice in the workforce, and only 4.3% of them are employed in community-based settings. The reason OT practitioners are not working for community agencies could be twofold: either practitioners are not choosing to practice in the community or community agencies do not understand the role an occupational therapist can play in their agency. There is a need for increased evidence, ideas, and perspectives of occupational therapists to be more readily available to the general public and policymakers to link occupation, health, and well-being.
DESIGN: A qualitative content analysis approach was used to understand the perspective of community agency employees regarding OT services.
PARTICIPANTS: Eleven participants were recruited from two community-based organizations supporting adults with disabilities where OT services were piloted. Participants had either an administrative role or a direct care role at the organizations.
METHOD: One researcher interviewed all participants and transcribed the interviews verbatim.
ANALYSIS: A conventional content analysis approach was used to allow themes to emerge straight from the interview transcripts. One researcher coded all interviews, and another researcher provided reliability coding for 40% of interview data. The researchers defined and redefined codes into themes that emerged from the data until 80% reliability was reached.
RESULTS: The results indicated four main themes: New Approach, Change in Focus, Align With Mission, and Developing a Shared Understanding. These themes represented current perceptions of OT’s involvement at both organizations. For example, both agencies highlighted OT’s unique approach to assessment and intervention in the Change In Focus theme.
DISCUSSION: This research highlights the contribution OT can make to community-based organizations. The variety of roles served indicated versatility in the usage of OT within community-based settings. Overall, organizations discovered new ideas, perspectives, and strategies because of the knowledge base of OT. Therapists can use this research to understand how OT can fit into community agencies and advocate for OT involvement in the community.
IMPACT STATEMENT: To further expand OT, it is imperative to advocate for the value and emerging role of OT within community-based settings. Our findings demonstrate the value of OT and the versatility in roles OT may serve in community organizations. The alignment of the OT profession within the community aids in creating a powerful team for organizations to work toward a common goal of community inclusion for adults with disabilities.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2010). Your career in occupational therapy: Workforce trends in occupational therapy. Retrieved from
Moll, S. E., Gewurtz, R. E., Krupa, T. M., & Law, M. C. (2013). Promoting an occupational perspective in public health/Promouvoir une perspective occupationnelle dans le domaine de la santé publique. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 80, 111–119.