Occupational therapists are constantly hearing about the need to use evidence-based practice when treating clients, but research shows that health professionals, including OTs, often don’t, for a number of reasons. Top barriers are: lack of time (to search and read the literature, to apply research to practice, or to engage in research), difficulty seeing the application to practice, lack of access to journals or research articles, and difficulty reading and understanding the articles. What’s a therapist to do?
Fortunately, there are some helpful resources available to overcome these barriers. AOTA provides a good starting place, and you don’t need to be a member to access some of them. For example, on AOTA’s website, www.aota.org, click the tab for Educators-Researchers. Then, click the link for Evidence-Based Practice & Research. On this page you can download AOTA's Evidence-Based Practice Resources document which describes available resources. Click the link for your practice area and find links to AJOT Articles, OT Practice Articles, SIS Quarterlies Articles, CATs (focused lit reviews) and CAPs (article summaries), and other resources. AOTA members have access to all the resources, although some articles can be downloaded by non-members. Browse the resources, and see what you can find!
Two helpful online resources are OTSeeker (http://www.otseeker.com) and the Evidence Based Occupational Therapy site (http://www.otevidence.info). OTSeeker allows you to search for articles based on key words. The OTevidence site has several links describing evidence-based OT, a Search page, and a Databases page which provides links to several OT/Rehab databases. Explore these sites to get a feel for what they offer. Once your search leads you to interesting abstracts, you may want to find the full text.
To get the full text of an article, you may need access to an academic database, or do some additional searching to see if the article can be found online. AOTA members have access to the full text of AJOT, the Canadian OT journal, and the British Journal of Occupational therapy, through AOTA’s web site. Using a search engine can often help locate a wide variety of articles. Try typing “evidence-based practice” “ occupational therapy” and a diagnosis into a search engine and see what comes up. After a little practice, searching for evidence becomes more of a treasure hunt than a chore!
Sue Ordinetz, PhD., OTR/L