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What Every Occupational Therapist Should Know About Evidence-Based Practice

What Every Occupational Therapist Should Know About Evidence-Based Practice
Franklin Stein, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA
August 22, 2013

This text-based course is a transcript of the live webinar titled, "What Every Occupational Therapist Should Know About Evidence Based Practice" by Franklin Stein, Editor, Occupational Therapy International

>> Dr. Franklin Stein:  It is a pleasure to talk about an area which I think is essential to every occupational therapist. 


Let me start with some basic questions that are related to evidence-based practice.  Are occupational therapists being effective with patients?  How do we know that a therapist is an excellent occupational therapist?  How can we incorporate the results of research into clinical practice?  Many occupational therapist have a good education.  What information they have learned in school could be outdated.  How do we then keep up-to-date so that we can work most effectively with our clients?   The next question is “Why is it that, in the 21st century, evidence-based practice has emerged as a key factor in almost every aspect of professional life?” 

I started my career as an occupational therapist over 50 years ago working with individuals with mental illness.  Best practice at that time was based on prior clinical experience, your education as an occupational therapist, and trial and error.  Here we are in 2013.  We can use the Internet to identify thousands of studies throughout the world that are relevant to occupational therapy practice.  In this presentation, I would like to share with you how evidence-based practice has impacted our work as occupational therapists and what skills are needed in using evidence-based practice in improving occupational therapy. 

Before we even start, let me give you two very important assumptions that underlie the practice of occupational therapy and also is critical in applying evidence-based practice.  The first is the application of purposeful and meaningful activities as the core of occupation.  Number two, the quality of an occupational therapy intervention is based on the skill of the therapist working with the client, the specific intervention selected, the environment where the intervention takes place, and the unique aspects of the client or patient. 

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) and Occupational Therapy

Let's start now with the definition.  Evidence-based practice in occupational therapy refers to applying current best evidence to occupational therapy practice from a systematic review of research or a meta-analysis where data is statistically combined.  We will talk about what a meta-analysis is and what a systemic review is. 

Historical Background of EBP

Evidence-based practice first appeared in the medical literature in the 1990s.  It was presented at that time as a new approach to teaching and the practice of medicine.  It requires the skills, and these are extremely important, of critical appraisal and clinical problem solving.  These are skills that I think are essential to occupational therapy.  In 2007, evidence-based practice was voted as one of the 15 greatest medical advances since 1840.

franklin stein

Franklin Stein, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA


Dr. Stein is an experienced educator, researcher, and clinician in occupational therapy. He is author of the Stress Management Questionnaire and Psychosocial Occupational Therapy: A Holistic Approach 2nd edition and editor of Occupational Therapy International. He has presented numerous papers nationally and internationally on stress management.

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