Student preparation for research-active OT careers: A longitudinal, mixed-method study

Tanya Rihtman, Julie Booth, Rob Wilson, Mike Morgan

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


INTRODUCTION: There is a need to develop occupational therapy (OT) research capacity to facilitate evidence-based practice and to assist in securing the profession’s future (White 2013). University programmes that enable engagement in research activity may lead to research-enhanced careers (White and Creek 2007). This study aims to describe undergraduate OT student research experiences and perceptions and the factors related to preparation for research active careers.

METHODS: This longitudinal, mixed-method study repeatedly surveyed final year OT students from one university during the process of implementing their final year research projects. The Research Spider (Smith et al 2002), Q-methodology and non-standardised surveys measured experiences of research engagement, research knowledge and competencies and emotional variables. Data was analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.

RESULTS: Ethical approval was gained from Coventry University’s Faculty Ethics committee. Baseline data collection (prior to research engagement) yielded 33 survey and 18 Q-sort responses from OT students during the period between their 2nd and 3rd years of study. These initial results profile research attitudes and perceptions prior to independent engagement with research. Findings from student responses after research engagement have demonstrated shifting profiles in relation to experiences of professional research engagement.

CONCLUSION: Findings have the potential to enhance evidence-based practice as a key component of OT’s professional standards (COT 2010; HCPC 2013) with clear implications on the quality of OT provision for service users. Findings may facilitate a better understanding of factors that contribute to research attitudes in the longer-term. This has the potential for informing OT study programmes, raising graduate confidence, and enhancing professional identity and profile through improved skills for ensuring efficacy of interventions. Additionally, the implications of the study findings on the provision of undergraduate research experiences in support of the development of evidence-based practitioner skills are highlighted.


College of Occupational Therapists (2010) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. London: College of Occupational Therapists.

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (2013) Standards of Proficiency. Occupational Therapy. London: HCPC.

Smith H, Wright D, Morgan S, Dunleavey J (2002) The ‘research spider’: A simple method of assessing research experience. Primary Health Care Research and Development, 3, 139–140.

White E (2013) The United Kingdom Occupational Therapy Research Foundation: A 6 year reflection. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76(10), 433.

White E, Creek J (2007) College of Occupational Therapists’ research and development strategic vision and action plan: 5-year Review. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70(3), 122-128.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2016
EventHLS Conference: Working across Boundaries - Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Apr 201615 Apr 2016


ConferenceHLS Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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