Date Presented 04/21/2023

This study collected statements and actions addressing racial injustices within OT from professional organizations after systemic racism protests in 2020. The low numbers of statements and actions show the continued need for racial justice work.

Primary Author and Speaker: Kathleen Doherty

Additional Authors and Speakers: Lisa Jaegers, Crystal Dieleman, Sandra Rogers

Contributing Authors: Mary Beth Dillon, Jaime P. Muñoz, Karen Barney

PURPOSE: Justice-Based Occupational Therapy (JBOT) is an international network of OTs that seek to promote occupational justice (1). This JBOT study explored the response from occupational therapy organizations addressing systemic racism within the OT profession following the protests of 2020 (2). The purpose of this study was to identify call-to-action statements, and describe the amount and mode of actions that were taken to address and improve upon the issues brought about in their initial statement. By examining these responses, JBOT seeks to determine the extent to which actions have been taken.

DESIGN: A descriptive study design was used to identify the statements and subsequent actions taken by occupational therapy organizations. The statements had to be published within 3 months of protests beginning in May 25, 2020 that spread worldwide, and address changes to be made in at least one of the following areas: racism, professional association, academia, practice, and community health reform.

METHOD: Using a qualitative approach, artifacts were collected from occupational therapy organization websites and social media pages.

RESULTS: Of the major national occupational therapy and certification organizations (n=108), 19.4% (N=21) made statements following 2020 protests. Regions with the highest number of statements included the Caribbean, Europe and North America. Not all of the organizations had follow-up actions to their statements and most actions were taken in 2020 and 2021.

CONCLUSION: Findings indicate momentum began with many initial statements. However there was limited reporting of follow-up activities or actions taken.

IMPACT STATEMENT: The relatively low number of statements and availability of reported actions highlight the need for organizations to provide updates on their statements and the ways that they have or will carry out the promotion of racial justice and to encourage justice-based practice in OT.


Jaegers, L. A., Dieleman, C., Dillon, M. B., Rogers, S., Muñoz, J., & Barney, K. F. (2020). Justice-based occupational therapy initiative: Advancing occupational justice in criminal justice systems. Annals of International Occupational Therapy, 3(4):200–2.

Response to Occupational Therapy Statement on Justice and Racism (2020, June 16). Justice-Based Occupational Therapy, 2(2), 1–5.