The Global Status of Occupational Therapy Workforce Research Worldwide: A Scoping Review

Tiago S. Jesus, Karthik Mani, Claudia Von Zweck, Sutanuka Bhattacharjya, Sureshkumar Kamalakannan, Ritchard Ledgerd

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Importance: To fulfill their societal role, occupational therapists need to exist in sufficient supply, be equitably distributed, and meet competency standards. Occupational therapy workforce research is instrumental in reaching these aims, but its global status is unknown. Objective: To map the volume and nature (topics, methods, geography, funding) of occupational therapy workforce research worldwide. Data Sources: Six scientific databases (MEDLINE/PubMed, Scopus, CINAHL, Web of Science Core Collection, PDQ-Evidence for Informed Health Policymaking, OTseeker), institutional websites, snowballing, and key informants. Study Selection and Data Collection: Research articles of any kind were included if they involved data regarding occupational therapists and addressed 1 of 10 predefined workforce research categories. Two reviewers were used throughout study selection. No language or time restrictions applied, but the synthesis excluded publications before 1996. A linear regression examined the publications' yearly growth. Findings: Seventy-eight studies met the inclusion criteria, 57 of which had been published since 1996. Although significant (p < .01), annual publication growth was weak (0.07 publications/yr). "Attractiveness and retention" was a common topic (27%), and cross-sectional surveys were frequent study designs (53%). Few studies used inferential statistics (39%), focused on resource-poor countries (11%), used standardized instruments (10%), or tested a hypothesis (2%). Only 30% reported funding; these studies had stronger methodology: 65% used inferential statistics, and just 6% used exploratory cross-sectional surveys. Conclusions and Relevance: Worldwide occupational therapy workforce research is scant and inequitably distributed, uses suboptimal methods, and is underfunded. Funded studies used stronger methods. Concerted efforts are needed to strengthen occupational therapy workforce research. What This Article Adds: This review highlights the opportunity to develop a stronger, evidence-based strategy for workforce development and professional advocacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7703205080
JournalAmerican Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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