Importance: Occupational therapy's scope of practice aligns with the goals of comprehensive primary care set forth by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Pub. L. 111-148). To successfully integrate occupational therapy into primary care, we must understand occupational therapy practitioners' experiences in this setting.
Objective: To explore facilitators of, barriers to, and recommendations for integrating occupational therapy into primary care.
Design: A descriptive qualitative design that incorporated semistructured interviews, member checking sessions, and deductive thematic analysis. Interviews were structured to capture occupational therapists' experiences of and recommendations for practicing in primary care.
Setting: Primary care.
Participants: A purposive sample of licensed occupational therapists with at least 6 mo primary care experience in the United States.
Results: Seven participants reported 1 to 8 yr of experience in primary care. Four themes emerged that contextualized the experiences of occupational therapists in primary care. The first theme captured the process of gaining entry onto the primary care team. Once structurally embedded on the team, the second and third themes, respectively, captured barriers and facilitators to navigating team-based care and providing patient-centered care. The fourth theme reflected participants' vision and ideas of how to expand reach nationally to promote consistent integration of occupational therapy into primary care.
Conclusion and Relevance: Given the important role of an interprofessional primary care team in improving population health, this study is timely in that it explored occupational therapists' experiences in this emerging practice area.
What This Article Adds: Occupational therapists in this study used their skills, resources, and networks to become part of a primary care team. They indicated that they contributed to positive outcomes through working with patients on self-management, functional problem solving, and behavior change.