Abstract

Objectives. Occupational therapy literature describes various independent living programs developed by occupational therapists and at times documents their effectiveness, yet none of the literature reviewed examined the involvement of occupational therapists in independent living programs.

Method. Directors of independent living programs in the United States were surveyed to ascertain their use of occupational therapists, to discover which disciplines were providing traditional occupational therapy services (e.g., daily living skills, assistive device provision, etc.) in these programs, and to identify which types of independent living programs were more likely to use occupational therapy services.

Results. Less than half of the 96 responding independent living programs (46%) reported using occupational therapy services, and those programs that did provide occupational therapy services did so at a minimal rate. The programs that employed occupational therapists offered traditional occupational therapy services more often than those with no occupational therapists, but frequently, occupational therapists were not the providers of these traditional occupational therapy services. Chi-square analyses indicated that an independent living program’s use of occupational therapy services was significantly affected by the type of facility (p = 0.05), the primary funding source (p = 0.04), and the program’s practices regarding the hiring of professionals without disabilities (p = 0.04).

Conclusion. Possible reasons why occupational therapists are not employed more by independent living centers are discussed and recommendations for change are provided.

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