Abstract

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Evidence-Based Practice Project has developed a table summarizing the research opportunities on people with autism spectrum disorder. The table provides an overview of the state of the current available evidence on interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice and is based on the systematic reviews from the AOTA Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines Series. Researchers, students, and clinicians can use this information in developing innovative research to answer important questions within the occupational therapy field.

Planning a research project requires consideration of many factors. Level of interest and knowledge in a specific area, access to appropriate populations of participants, support of mentors and other researchers, and funding availability all help determine the focus of a future project. An additional component to be considered is whether adequate, up-to-date research has already been completed on a topic; if sufficient evidence is available in a given core area, this area might not be the best choice for another research project.

The best research topic may be one in which either little research has been done or the research to date is insufficient, inconclusive, or mixed. In addition, when research conducted to date provides a low level of evidence and is of limited quality, additional high-quality research in the area is needed.

The table “Research Opportunities in the Area of People With Autism Spectrum Disorder” provides an overview of the state of current available evidence on interventions within the scope of occupational therapy practice. The table is based on the systematic reviews from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Evidence-Based Practice Guidelines Series. The table lists specific interventions and indicates either that the evidence is strong to support the intervention or that moderate, mixed, or few studies support the intervention, and therefore it is a priority area for future research. Researchers, students, and clinicians can use this information in developing innovative research to answer important questions within the field of occupational therapy. Please refer to Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder (Tomchek & Koenig, 2016) and the September/October 2015 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (Kuhaneck & Watling, 2015) for more information on the topic area and the systematic review process. To access the tables online and search for research opportunities in other practice areas, visit http://www.aota.org/researchopportunitiestables.

Researchers are also encouraged to enter their projects into AOTA’s Researcher Database at http://myaota.aota.org/research/. This database provides AOTA with information such as relevant clinical settings and populations, International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health level (World Health Organization, 2001), funder (if any), and key words to help guide research advocacy and policy initiatives.

Acknowledgments

This work is based on the September/October 2015 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (Kuhaneck & Watling, 2015) and the Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Individuals With Autism Spectrum Disorder (Tomchek & Koenig, 2015), all from the AOTA Evidence-Based Practice Project.

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