Importance: Research supports the clinical effectiveness of hospital-based occupational therapy to improve functional outcomes, but no synthesis of economic evaluations of occupational therapy services provided in these settings has been published.
Objective: To determine the economic value of occupational therapy services in acute and subacute care settings.
Data Sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, CENTRAL, EconLit, Embase, National Health Services Economic Evaluation Database, PsycINFO, ProQuest (Health and Medicine and Social Science subsets only), OTseeker, and gray literature.
Study Selection and Data Collection: Eligible studies used trial-based or modeled economic analyses and included an adult population (ages ≥18 yr) and occupational therapy assessments or interventions provided in acute and subacute care. Two authors independently assessed abstracts and then full text. Articles were then appraised using the Evers Consensus on Health Economic Criteria.
Findings: The authors identified 13,176 unique abstracts and assessed 190 full-text articles for eligibility. Ten studies were included in the systematic review; they varied in their primary objectives, methodology, costs, and outcomes. Studies examined the cost–benefit, cost-effectiveness, cost–utility, or cost minimization of a range of occupational therapy services. Five studies suggested that occupational therapy services offer value for money (lower cost, higher benefit); 4 suggested that they offer higher cost and benefits. One study that investigated upper limb rehabilitation did not indicate value for money.
Conclusions and Relevance: The findings suggest that occupational therapy for adults poststroke and post–traumatic brain injury, acute discharge planning, and pre– and post–hip replacement is cost-effective, but further research is needed to substantiate these findings.
What This Article Adds: The findings provide preliminary evidence of the economic effectiveness of occupational therapy in acute and subacute care.