Research education in undergraduate occupational therapy programs

P. Petersen, Elizabethtown College
V. Roberts, Elizabethtown College
M. Loughlin, Elizabethtown College
P. Ludwig, Elizabethtown College


A literature review revealed the importance of research for advancing occupational therapy as well as its validation. To comply with the 1983 American Occupational Therapy Association Essentials (AOTA, 1983) and to create an atmosphere of inquiry within the profession, it has been necessary to introduce research at the undergraduate level. This paper reports the results of a survey distributed to all accredited undergraduate occupational therapy educational programs in the United States. Its purpose was to determine the extent to which research is taught to undergraduates. Of the 63 surveys mailed, 38 were returned, yielding a 60.3% response rate. The study results indicated that despite some areas of consistent teaching, there was considerable variability in topics covered. The following topics were examined in this study: statistical background (prerequisites), research course content, assignments/outcomes of research courses, statistical software utilization, behavioral objectives for research, program recommendations, and deterrents to meeting these recommendations. The paper closes with an examination of the two AOTA Essentials related to the instruction of research and suggestions for revising the 1993 Essentials.