Given the current health care debate, it is imperative to document the usefulness of various health services for older persons, a rapidly growing population at increased risk for a wide variety of physical and functional impairments. A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the degree of effectiveness of occupational therapy for older persons. For a sample of 15 distinct tests of occupational therapy, a positive unweighted mean effect size of .51 (.54 when corrected for instrument unreliability) was obtained, along with a highly significant cumulative result for treatment success (p < .001). Beneficial treatment effects extended to activities of daily living–functional and psychosocial outcomes. The results for physical outcomes suggested a beneficial effect, although not every meta-analytic test yielded significant results. It was concluded that factors such as publication bias or poor study design are incapable of accounting for the positive meta-analytic result and that occupational therapy represents a worthwhile treatment option for older persons.

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