Date Presented 04/21/2023

Researchers will present their findings on the changes in occupational participation, performance, and fulfillment of meaningful roles and performance patterns experienced by victims of mass shootings, as revealed through analysis of shared stories.

Primary Author and Speaker: Ashley Ellsworth

Additional Authors and Speakers: Bridget Scheidler

Over 600 mass shooting incidents were verified to have occurred in the United States in both 2020 and 2021 (Gun Violence Achieve, 2022) and although OTs often treat victims of trauma (Fette et al., 2019), they lack clearly identified roles in working with victims of mass shootings. The purpose of this research study was to conduct a qualitative review of the accounts of survivors of mass shootings to examine changes in their occupational participation and fulfillment of meaningful roles and routines following the incident.

DESIGN: Given the sensitive nature of this study’s topic and population of interest, the researchers used unobtrusive methods of data collection following a qualitative research design. Participants included primary, secondary, and tertiary victims of United States-based mass shootings whose stories were publicly published between January 2016 and April 2021.

METHODS: The researchers collected and analyzed open-access online written and audio-visual records containing stories from survivors of mass shootings following Braun and Clarke’s (2006) recommendations for thematic analysis until saturation. The researchers employed open- and closed-coding procedures with deductive analysis focusing on aligning codes to the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework.

RESULTS: Results indicated that survivors at multiple levels of association to the event experience changes in their occupational performance, participation, and fulfillment of performance patterns. Eight themes were identified to encapsulate the common areas of occupational and performance-related concern expressed by individuals.

CONCLUSION: OTs need to be aware of the occupation-based changes victims may experience following a mass shooting event to provide and advocate for victims’ receipt of appropriate care. This research study serves to expand the current data on the impact of mass shootings and highlights the need for future research on OT’s role in working with this population.


Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Fette, C., Lambdin-Pattavina, C., & Weaver, L. (2019). Understanding and applying trauma-informed approaches across occupational therapy settings. American Occupational Therapy Association.∼/media/Corporate/Files/Publications/CE-Articles/CE-Article-May-2019-Trauma

Gun Violence Archive. (2022). Past Summary Ledgers.