Date Presented 04/22/2023

Research results of school-based OT practitioners’ perceptions of participation for children at school will be shared and applied using best-practice evidence to observe, assess, and intervene for participation outcomes.

Primary Author and Speaker: Paula J. Thompson-Costello

Additional Authors and Speakers: Brigid Bendig, Daniela Ugalde, Kayla Robinson, Alison Kirk

IMPORTANCE: The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines the health outcome of participation as ‘involvement in a life situation.’ For children with disabilities, life participation includes education, which may require support from related services of school-based occupational therapy practitioners (SBOT). Supporting child participation is seen as the role of SBOTs, yet little is known about the perspective of SBOT’s understanding and practice related to childhood participation at school.

PURPOSE: To understand the perspective of SBOTs related to their definition of participation at school, what participation in action looks like, and how SBOTs assess and intervene to support participation for children at school.

DESIGN: Qualitative exploratory design using semi-structured interviews. Participants were SBOTs (OT and OTA), working in school settings at least one year, at least 21 years of age, and English speaking.

METHOD: Data collection used virtual video interviews with a semi-structured script developed from literature and content experts review, and a demographic screener. Analysis used deductive coding of transcripts against the family of Participation-Related Constructs framework with data triangulation and coding saturation established by study staff.

RESULTS: Participants’ definition of participation was seen as both a process and outcome. Definitions, descriptions, assessment of and intervention of participation aligned best with the construct of attendance with less reported consideration of involvement. Internal factors related to activity competence were emphasized.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPACT: Elements of participation need to be more widely understood, guidelines for participation observations developed, and strategies for assessment and intervention operationalized to reduce emphasis on less evidenced-based practice and increase uptake of participation evidence for SBOT practice


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