Primary care is a key theme in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA; 2010). But what does the term mean? Is there a difference between primary care and primary health care? Does primary care encompass occupational therapy? What are the possible roles for occupational therapy in primary care and in achieving primary health care goals?

This column defines the terms, provides questions for occupational therapy professionals to consider in connecting the domain of practice to primary care and primary health care, and suggests some possible connections between the definitions and practice.

The ACA addresses primary care in several ways, but the definition is usually construed as limited, even as the descriptions of what primary care should be and should accomplish are expansive. Is this a problem of expectations—that primary care should address a “large majority of personal health needs” (ACA, 2010) or that it...

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