An ongoing project is described in which qualitative research was undertaken to guide development of a service program for retarded adults. Several issues concerning the need for research, the type of research, and research methodology appropriate to occupational therapy are discussed. The research activity as well as some findings and supporting data is presented to illustrate how the investigation was conducted and what kinds of information it yielded. Two subsequent discussions focus on how the findings were used to guide program development and add substantive empirical support to occupational behavior theory.

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