Benefits and Value of Occupational Therapy 

For decades, occupational therapy has been a vital profession within healthcare that supports the long-term health, quality of life and the productivity of Canadians. Since first introducing guidelines for client-centred practice with the Department of National Health and Welfare in the 1980s, the practice has continually proven to be successful – so much so, that most health agencies, advocates and academic are calling for more movement toward the client-centred practice in order to improve outcomes and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

Occupational therapists work with patients with a wide variety of physical, mental and cognitive conditions which are often chronic in nature, and require ongoing care. By looking at the environment, necessary tasks, skills, as well as educating the client/family, occupational therapists work to increase participation in, and performance of, daily activities. 

Articles Demonstrating the Value of Investing in Occupational Therapy

Goal-oriented cognitive rehabilitation for early-stage Alzheimer's and related dementias: the GREAT RCT.

March 2019 | Health Technology Assessment

Cognitive rehabilitation delivered primarily by occupational therapists is clinically effective in enabling people with early-stage dementia to improve their everyday functioning (related to individual goals) and is cost-effective from a health, social care and societal perspective. Read more

Predischarge home visits after hip fracture: a randomized controlled trial

January 2019 | Clinical Rehabilitation

Predischarge home assessments by an occupational therapist have a number of benefits for patients with hip fractures, including: Reduced risk of readmissions to hospital, increased functional independence at six months, and possible reduction in falls during the 30 days following discharge. Read more

Economic Evaluations of Falls Prevention Programs for Older Adults: A Systematic Review

October 2018 | Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Home assessment programs were found to be the most cost‐effective type of program for community‐dwelling older adults. The home assessment programs included interventions that are often delivered by occupational therapists, including home modifications and home safety assessments. Read more

Why some patients who do not need hospitalization cannot leave: A case study of reviews in 6 Canadian hospitals

February 2018 | Healthcare Management Forum

Restorative care (delivered by an interprofessional team that includes occupational therapy), has been found to be a safe and effective way to improve patients’ functioning across care settings. A focus on restorative care, which might include increasing physical activity, promoting independence for activities of daily living, and addressing motivational issues, could help reduce unnecessarily long hospital stays for patients awaiting alternate level of care. Read more

Efficacy of intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation in Parkinson’s disease: a randomised controlled study

January 2018 | Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and & Psychiatry 

A rehabilitation treatment such as MIRT, which includes occupational therapy treatment, could improve quality of life in patients with Parkinson's disease in the short-term and long-term period.  Read more

A before-after study of hospital use in two frail populations receiving different home-based services over the same time in Vancouver, Canada

2018 | BMC Health Services Research 

Enrollment in integrated home-based primary care, which included occupational therapy, was associated with stabilized emergency department visit and hospital admission rates for a homebound and frail elderly population. In comparison, after starting home care with usual primary care, emergency department visit and hospital admission rates continued to rise. Read more

Supported Discharge Teams for older people in hospital acute care: a randomised controlled trial

March 2018 | Age and Aging 

Supported Discharge Teams that include occupational therapy can: Support older people with a variety of conditions to be discharged earlier from hospital, reduce risk of readmission to hospital for older people, and have an important role to play in increasing bed capacity of hospitals. Read more 

Occupational therapy improves health, quality of life of young adults with diabetes

January 2018 | University of Southern California

New results from a University of Southern California-led research study demonstrates the distinct value of occupational therapy for improving the health and quality of life of young adults living with diabetes. Read more

Disability in activities of daily living among adults with cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis

December 2017 | Cancer Treatment Reviews 

Study findings highlight substantial need for rehabilitation services that focus on maintaining functional independence, and underscore an important role for professionals skilled in occupational assessment and therapy. Management of ADL related disability should arguably be a core part of oncology practice. Read more

Occupational therapy interventions in the treatment of people with severe mental illness

July 2017 | Current Opinion in Psychiatry

There is a growing body of evidence regarding the value of interventions addressing occupational engagement of individuals with severe mental illness, including a range of activation strategies and approaches. Read more

Occupational therapy for adults with problems in activities of daily living after stroke

July 2017 | The Cochrane Library
We found low-quality evidence that occupational therapy targeted towards activities of daily living after stroke can improve performance in activities of daily living and reduce the risk of deterioration in these abilities. Read more

Improving Lives, Saving Money: Reducing the Pressure on our hospitals

July 2017 | Royal College of Occupational Therapists

Access to an occupational therapy assessment at the hospital front door cuts admissions and discharge delays (by up to 80%) and reduces the time patients spend in hospital unnecessarily. Read more

Home- and Community-Based Occupational Therapy Improves Functioning in Frail Older People: A Systematic Review

April 2017 | Clinical Management of the Older Adult
There is strong evidence that occupational therapy improves functioning in community-dwelling physically frail older people. Read more

Functional Outcomes of the Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

March 2017 | Investigative Ophthamology & Visual Science
Based on the trends of the AI data, we suggest that BA + OT-LVR services, provided by an OT in the patient's home following conventional low vision optometry services, are more effective than conventional optometric low vision services alone for those with mild visual impairment.  Read more

Occupational therapy for delirium management in elderly patients without mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit: A pilot randomized clinical trial

February 2017 | Journal of Critical Care

Occupational therapy is effective in decreasing duration and incidence of delirium in nonventilated elderly patients in the intensive care unit and improved functionality at discharge.  Read more

Occupational Therapy for Adults With Cancer: Why It Matters

March 2016 | The Oncologist

Adults with cancer are at risk for functional decline, which can lead to increased hospitalization, poor tolerance of cancer treatment, and increased health-care costs. Occupational therapy is specifically designed to evaluate and treat functional deficits, yet it remains underused in cancer care. This article describes what occupational therapy is, how to identify those who may need it, and how to access services. Read more

Higher Hospital Spending on Occupational Therapy Is Associated With Lower Readmission Rates

September 2016 | Medical Care Research and Review
We found that occupational therapy is the only spending category where additional spending has a statistically significant association with lower readmission rates for all three medical conditions. Read more
Read CAOT-BC blog post    

Home-Based Care Program Reduces Disability And Promotes Aging In Place

September 2016 | Health Affairs

The program, described in this innovation profile, uses an interprofessional team (an occupational therapist, a registered nurse, and a handyman) to help participants achieve goals they set. Read more

OPTIMAL, an occupational therapy led self-management support programme for people with multimorbidity in primary care: a randomized controlled trial.

May 2015 | BMC Family Practice 

The occupational therapy led OPTIMAL program was effective in improving activity participation and performance, leading to improvements in self-efficacy, health related quality of life, and goal attainment. As well, the program increased participants’ frequency of engagement in daily activities. Read more

Managing patients with multimorbidity: systematic review of interventions in primary care and community settings

September 2012 | BMJ

Interventions designed to improve outcomes in patients with multimorbidity are likely to be more effective if targeted at risk factors or specific functional difficulties. One study utilized occupational therapy and physiotherapy led interventions that targeted functional difficulty and falls prevention which was found to significantly reduce mortality in the first two years. Read more


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