AOTA 2020 Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics. Am J Occup Ther 2020;74(Supplement_3):7413410005. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.74S3006
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
The 2020 Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (the Code) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is designed to reflect the dynamic nature of the occupational therapy profession, the evolving health care environment, and emerging technologies that can present potential ethical concerns in practice, research, education, and policy. AOTA members are committed to promoting inclusion, participation, safety, and well-being for all recipients of service in various stages of life, health, and illness and to empowering all beneficiaries of service to meet their occupational needs. Recipients of services may be persons, groups, families, organizations, communities, or populations (AOTA, 2020).
It provides aspirational Core Values that guide occupational therapy personnel toward ethical courses of action in professional and volunteer roles.
2. It delineates ethical Principles and enforceable Standards of Conduct that apply to AOTA members.
Altruism indicates demonstration of unselfish concern for the welfare of others. Occupational therapy personnel reflect this concept in actions and attitudes of commitment, caring, dedication, responsiveness, and understanding.
Equality indicates that all persons have fundamental human rights and the right to the same opportunities. Occupational therapy personnel demonstrate this value by maintaining an attitude of fairness and impartiality and treating all persons in a way that is free of bias. Personnel should recognize their own biases and respect all persons, keeping in mind that others may have values, beliefs, or lifestyles that differ from their own. Equality applies to the professional arena as well as to recipients of occupational therapy services.
Freedom indicates valuing each person’s right to exercise autonomy and demonstrate independence, initiative, and self-direction. A person’s occupations play a major role in their development of self-direction, initiative, interdependence, and ability to adapt and relate to the world. Occupational therapy personnel affirm the autonomy of each individual to pursue goals that have personal and social meaning. Occupational therapy personnel value the service recipient’s right and desire to guide interventions.
Justice indicates that occupational therapy personnel provide occupational therapy services for all persons in need of these services and maintain a goal-directed and objective relationship with recipients of service. Justice places value on upholding moral and legal principles and on having knowledge of and respect for the legal rights of recipients of service. Occupational therapy personnel must understand and abide by local, state, and federal laws governing professional practice. Justice is the pursuit of a state in which diverse communities are inclusive and are organized and structured so that all members can function, flourish, and live a satisfactory life regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, origin, socioeconomic status, degree of ability, or any other status or attributes. Occupational therapy personnel, by virtue of the specific nature of the practice of occupational therapy, have a vested interest in social justice: addressing unjust inequities that limit opportunities for participation in society (Ashe, 2016; Braveman & Bass-Haugen, 2009). They also exhibit attitudes and actions consistent with occupational justice: full inclusion in everyday meaningful occupations for persons, groups, or populations (Scott et al., 2017).
Dignity indicates the importance of valuing, promoting, and preserving the inherent worth and uniqueness of each person. This value includes respecting the person’s social and cultural heritage and life experiences. Exhibiting attitudes and actions of dignity requires occupational therapy personnel to act in ways consistent with cultural sensitivity, humility, and agility.
Truth indicates that occupational therapy personnel in all situations should be faithful to facts and reality. Truthfulness, or veracity, is demonstrated by being accountable, honest, forthright, accurate, and authentic in attitudes and actions. Occupational therapy personnel have an obligation to be truthful with themselves, recipients of service, colleagues, and society. Truth includes maintaining and upgrading professional competence and being truthful in oral, written, and electronic communications.
Prudence indicates the ability to govern and discipline oneself through the use of reason. To be prudent is to value judiciousness, discretion, vigilance, moderation, care, and circumspection in the management of one’s own affairs and to temper extremes, make judgments, and respond on the basis of intelligent reflection and rational thought. Prudence must be exercised in clinical and ethical reasoning, interactions with colleagues, and volunteer roles.
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