Like the vast majority of the approximate 14,000 attendees, I had a wonderful experience at AOTA’s 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition in Philadelphia celebrating the 100th anniversary of occupational therapy. It was joyful to catch up with colleagues, network, make new professional connections, learn and share my experience in three presentations I was involved in delivering. One of those presentations was a Pre-Conference Institute titled, “Supporting Occupational needs Through Population and Organizational OT: Gain Knowledge and Skill to Expand Your Practice.” This institute was organized by Roger Ideishi, JD, OT/L, FAOTA who is an Associate Professor of Instruction in Rehabilitation Sciences & Program Director at Temple University. Roger led 13 faculty including myself in delivering this six hour learning experience with an enthusiastic audience of occupational therapy practitioners who are either interested in, or currently providing population-based occupational therapy interventions.
Population health is a key component of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Vision 2025 which reads:
“Occupational therapy maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living (AOTA, 2106).”
The genesis of Vision 2025 can be found here:
It is important to note that the new vision statement was developed over an extended period of time through a process that offered tens of thousands of occupational therapy practitioners and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input and feedback. The draft of the statement was sent to 58,000 practitioners and students and met with a 78% overall approval rating. This of course means that there is not universal approval and that some members of AOTA and non-members of the association object to part or the whole of the statement. Nonetheless, population based intervention has been endorsed as an appropriate area of intervention for occupational therapy practitioners by the official bodies of the association including the Representative Assembly. For example, AOTA’s (2013) official statement on Occupational Therapy in the Promotion of Health and Well-Being includes a section on a population health approach and states, “In addition to providing occupational therapy interventions for individuals, occupational therapy practitioners can develop and implement occupation-based population health approaches to enhance occupational performance and participation, quality of life, and occupational justice” (AOTA, 2013, p. S49). The 3rd Edition of the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Practice clearly establishes communities and clients as populations and establishes the appropriateness of population-based interventions to address the occupational needs of populations (AOTA, 2014).
At the end of our Institute the faculty and the attendees discussed strategies for keeping participants in touch with each other and for finding a structural home in AOTA. I volunteered to explore options and one simple step that has already been accomplished was to create a permanent discussion thread in the AOTA Member Forums area on “Population Health.” If you are a member of AOTA you can find the discussion here:
If you are an AOTA member and are not yet a participant on OTConnections all you have to do is create a free account. We are interested in having a thought provoking and respectful interchange about the development of effective population-based occupational therapy interventions around the globe.
While there are already occupational therapy practitioners providing creative, innovative and effective population-based interventions in a variety of areas we have much to do to move our way forward in this area of intervention. Some of these needs include:
I’m already on the road to 2025. I hope you join me and others and help to shape the journey!
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2014).Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.).American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl.1), S1–S48, http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.682006.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2013). Occupational therapy in the promotion of health and well-being. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67(6, Suppl.), S47–S59, http://dx.doi.org/10. 5014/ajot.2013.67S47.
The opinions expressed in my blog are personal and neither represent the views of my employer nor any organization.