Importance: Hospitalized patients who have difficulty performing activities of daily living (ADLs) benefit from occupational therapy services; however, disparities in access to such services are understudied.

Objective: To investigate whether need (i.e., limited ADL performance) predicts acute care occupational therapy utilization and whether this relationship differs across sociodemographic factors and insurance type.

Design: A secondary analysis of electronic health records data. Logistic regression models were specified to determine whether ADL performance predicted use of occupational therapy treatment. Interactions were included to investigate whether the relationship between ADL performance and occupational therapy utilization varied across sociodemographic factors (e.g., age) and insurance type.

Participants: A total of 56,022 adults admitted to five regional hospitals between 2014 and 2018 who received an occupational therapy evaluation.

Intervention: None.

Outcomes and Measures: Occupational therapy service utilization, Activity Measure for Post-Acute Care “6-Clicks” measure of daily activity.

Results: Forty-four percent of the patients evaluated for occupational therapy received treatment. Patients with lower ADL performance were more likely to receive occupational therapy treatment; however, interaction terms indicated that, among patients with low ADL performance, those who were younger, were White and non-Hispanic, had significant others, and had private insurance (vs. public) were more likely to receive treatment. These differences were smaller among patients with greater ADL performance.

Conclusions and Relevance: Greater need was positively associated with receiving occupational therapy services, but this relationship was moderated by age, minoritized status, significant other status, and insurance type. The findings provide direction for exploring determinants of disparities in occupational therapy utilization.

What This Article Adds: Acute care occupational therapy utilization is driven partly by patient need, but potential disparities in access to beneficial services may exist across sociodemographic characteristics and insurance type. Identifying potential determinants of disparities in acute care occupational therapy utilization is the first step in developing strategies to reduce barriers for those in need.

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