What makes you go ‘hmm…?’ about occupational therapy in the UK?

Alexander Smith is a Stroke Association Postgraduate Fellow PhD Student, Division of Population Medicine at Cardiff University.

What makes you go ‘hmm…?’ about occupational therapy in the UK? Well, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in collaboration with the James Lind Alliance has launched a UK-wide survey to find out.

In the spirit of the 90s revival that we are currently in the midst of, cast your mind back to the early 90s top 10 dance hit ‘things that make you go hmm...’. Okay, you’re probably thinking, what does 90s dance have to do with occupational therapy research priorities, but go along with me. Now think of a typical day as a practising occupational therapist. How often do you run up against an unexpected challenge, or are asked a question by a patient or a colleague that makes you pause? Not because you have forgotten the answer but because you aren’t quite sure there is an answer yet. You may have even looked through the evidence, scoured the Cochrane reviews but without hitting on an answer. If you put the two together you get the things that make you go ‘hmm…?’ about occupational therapy and it’s your ‘hmm…?’ moments that we want to collect in our survey.

These ‘hmm…?’ moments are not exclusive to occupational therapists, which is why we are also asking people with lived experience of accessing occupational therapy, their carers and our colleagues to contribute the things that make them go ‘hmm…?’ about occupational therapy as well. Your experiences of accessing occupational therapy services, caring for those who do and working alongside occupational therapists offer a unique perspective, because your ‘hmm…?’ moments might not be the same as those of occupational therapists themselves. This is why we need you to encourage everyone you can to complete the survey and to share it as widely as possible.

So you’re probably thinking, ‘I don’t have time to turn my ‘hmm…’ moment into the perfect research question’. The good news is you don’t need to (we will do the hard work for you), instead the survey is about collecting your real experiences and your real ‘hmm…?’ moments.  When collected together, the ‘hmm…?’ moments will be sorted to form summary questions. We will then comb the literature to make sure that reliable and up-to-date evidence doesn’t exist in some deep dark recess that already answers the question. Those questions that don’t yet have an answer will be our ‘evidence uncertainties’ as identified by everyone who submits a ‘hmm…?’ moment, including you.

Okay that’s great, but what use are a bunch of things we are uncertain about? Well, these uncertainties will need answering and will set the priorities for occupational therapy research for many years to come. This is why we will be reaching out again in few months time to ask you to pick the most important questions from a long list to become our top 20 occupational therapy research priorities.

So from humming a 90s dance classic, thinking about things that make you go ‘hmm…?’ and submitting them to us, you can shape the future of occupational therapy research. Taking us from the things make you go ‘hmm...?’ to the answers that make you go ‘oh!’.

The survey can be found here and more information about the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership can be found here - www.rcot.co.uk/otpsp 


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