PURPOSE. To provide a model for assessing occupational therapy workforce needs by using a demand-based approach to determine current workforce status in the Northwest region. Regional information may have implications for addressing national occupational therapy service needs.
METHOD. A questionnaire was sent to a proportional random sample of 234 facilities that hire occupational therapy practitioners. Data were collected in July–August 2003 using structured mailing and follow-up procedures.
RESULTS. Response rate was 79%. Twenty-four percent reported occupational therapy vacancies and 11% occupational therapy assistant vacancies; 48% predicted an increase in occupational therapy positions in the next 2 years and 41% an increase in occupational therapy assistant positions. Sixty-three percent of respondents reported difficulty in hiring.
DISCUSSION. This study identifies an occupational therapy workforce shortage in the Northwest. Management of a shortage is critical, for even short-term adjustments could lead to permanent changes in service provision. This study demonstrates the importance of current information on the status of the national workforce and serves as a model for future studies.