Abstract

Computerized databases can facilitate several types of occupational therapy research. The value and usefulness of any database, however, is dependent on how well it has been designed. In this paper, a systematic, sequential-process model for the development of a computerized database is introduced. Each component of the model is illustrated by examples of its application to the actual design of a database for a community agency that provides occupational therapy services. The model focuses on issues related to the development of the contents of a database rather than on computer hardware and software. The issues addressed by the model include decisions about the purpose of the database, selection of the variables, and identification of the most appropriate measures with which to operationalize these variables. Content-related development issues have been given little attention in the literature, yet their neglect typically results in important limitations on the usefulness of a database. Therefore, this paper provides a set of guidelines for occupational therapists planning to establish a database for facilitating research.

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