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Advancing Occupational Therapy in Workplace Health and Wellbeing: A scoping review
School of Occupational Therapy Evidence Based Practice Conference 2013 (2013)
  • Lynn Shaw, Dr., Western University
  • Amanda Kollee
  • Helen Ren
  • Kayla Lofgren, Western University
  • Savannah Saarloos, Western University
  • Kirsten Slaven, Western University
  • Ann Bossers, Western University

Advancing Occupational Therapy in Workplace Health and Well-being: A Scoping Review Amanda Kollee, Helen Ren, Kayla Lofgren, Savannah Saarloos, Kirsten Slaven, Ann Bossers & Lynn Shaw Background: Workplace health continues to be a goal that workers and employers desire. For instance, organizations want to adapt and find ways to accommodate the changing needs of workers as they grow older and develop chronic health conditions. Preventative strategies are required to maintain health and limit the burden on both organizations and individual workers. Occupational therapists can support workplaces to foster the personal health and well-being of workers and to develop workplace environments that support productivity and positive workplace culture. Knowledge is needed to support the evolving role of OTs in evidence based practice in the workplace. Purpose: This paper presents a synthesis of existing knowledge regarding occupational therapy (OT) involvement in the development and maintenance of worker health. Methods: A scoping review was conducted by searching 11 electronic databases, including CINAHL, Medline-OVID, Sociological Abstracts, PsycINFO, JSTOR, ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health Source, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, EMBASE, Scopus, PubMed and OTDBASE. By using search terms including occupational therapy, workplace, workplace health, and well-being, 1814 articles published between 1992 and July, 2012 were identified Forty-six articles were extracted using a 5-point relevancy scale. Data was analyzed based on study location, year, health condition or injury focus, and study design. Information regarding OT involvement, outcome measures, enablement skills, and collaborative models were examined, with particular attention on the areas of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, assessments/interventions, and enablement skills as outlined by the Canadian Model of Client-Centred Enablement. Findings: The majority of studies were completed in the United States and Canada, with Sweden and the Netherlands following closely. Thirty-four quantitative, 11 qualitative and 1 mixed study were reviewed. Sixty-three percent of studies focused on persons with physical injuries or conditions and 28% on mental illness. The majority of articles demonstrated OT involvement using tertiary prevention for chronic and complex conditions. Focus on ‘return to work’ and ‘productivity’ was evident, and ‘well-being’, ‘maintaining work’ and ‘safety’ was less prevalent. The majority of articles highlighted the use of enablement skills that are more inter-relational in nature, including ‘collaborate’, ‘educate’, ‘coach’, and ‘engage’. Thirty-five percent of the articles stated that the assessment or intervention was carried out solely by OTs; the remaining articles included 61% involving multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary teams, and 4% did not specify the collaborative model. Implications: There is descriptive and intervention-based evidence to support the involvement of OTs in workplace practice. Future research is needed to enhance understanding of mental health, primary prevention, and OTs role on teams, and needs to consider further specifying and defining outcome measures and enablement skills. There is a need for higher level evidence and more qualitative studies that incorporate the perspectives of employees, employers, and therapists regarding OT interventions. The use of consistent terminology regarding outcome measures is recommended in future research to promote coherency in OT processes and interventions. The evidence from this scoping review will be utilized to develop a position statement for the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists to inform policy and practice development for OT interventions in workplace health and well-being.

  • primary prevention,
  • occupational therapy,
  • workplace,
  • health,
  • wellbeing
Publication Date
Winter March 8, 2013
Citation Information
Lynn Shaw, Amanda Kollee, Helen Ren, Kayla Lofgren, et al.. "Advancing Occupational Therapy in Workplace Health and Wellbeing: A scoping review" School of Occupational Therapy Evidence Based Practice Conference 2013 (2013)
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