Situational analysis for informing the global strengthening of the occupational therapy workforce

World Federation of Occupational Therapists

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Occupational Therapists are needed for meeting the health, rehabilitation, and occupational needs of the population worldwide, but there is no strategy for strengthening the occupational therapy workforce against a backdrop of an insufficient and inequitable supply worldwide. Objective: To perform a situational assessment of occupational therapy workforce development and research toward informing a global human resources strategy for the occupational therapy workforce strengthening. Method: A multi-methods design incorporating Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis based on scoping review findings, workforce development frameworks, and expert feedback. Results: Strengths included identified workforce research trends, gaps, and findings. Weaknesses included a shortage of workforce research, lack of uniform and readily available workforce datasets, absence of workforce research programs, over-reliance on descriptive and non-experimental research, lack of research on workforce topics (e.g., diversity), and lack of labor market or economic analyses. Opportunities are the availability of guidance and tools for strengthening the health and rehabilitation workforce worldwide, and increased membership from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. Threats include the suboptimal funding of occupational therapy workforce research, the lack of occupational therapists data on international datasets and studies, suboptimal educational capacity in LMICs, lack of professional regulation and uniform workforce data collection in many contexts, and a perceived lower priority of this health workforce focused on health and wellbeing rather than medical outcomes. Conclusion: This SWOT analysis identifies strengths and opportunities to be seized and weaknesses and threats to be addressed by development of a strategy for the global strengthening of the occupational therapy workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-535
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Health Planning and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • SWOT
  • health workforce
  • occupational therapy
  • situation analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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