The Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) has underlined its top 10 priorities for occupational therapy research in the UK, which will set the research agenda for occupational therapy going forwards.

These priorities will address the unanswered questions that matter the most to people who access and deliver occupational therapy services.

To discover the top 10 research priorities, people who access occupational therapy, their carers, OTs and other health and care professionals were first asked what questions they had about occupational therapy that research could answer.

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Participants were then asked to prioritise these questions, first through shortlisting in a nationwide survey and finally through reaching agreement in a final prioritisation workshop.

RCOT says this clear agenda will help RCOT achieve its vision to have, in the next decade, a UK-wide culture that embraces engaging in and with research as every occupational therapist’s business embedded within the profession.

It is hoped that these 10 questions will also improve the way occupational therapy services are accessed and delivered within the UK.

According to RCOT, the top 10 priorities for occupational therapy research are:

  1. How do occupational therapists (OTs) make a difference and have impact on everyday lives?
  2. How can occupational therapy ensure that person-centred practice is central to how they work?
  3. How can OTs work more effectively with the family and carers of people who access services?
  4. What are the long-term benefits of occupational therapy intervention?
  5. What are the benefits or impact of occupational therapy in primary care settings?
  6. How can occupational therapy services be more inclusive of both mental and physical health?
  7. What is the role of occupational therapy in supporting self-management?
  8. What is the role or impact of occupational therapy in reducing hospital admissions?
  9. How can OTs work most effectively with other professionals to improve outcomes for people who access services?
  10. What is the cost-effectiveness of occupational therapy services?

Now, RCOT will encourage and support its members to undertake and contribute to research studies that answer the specific questions that will help to address the priorities. Funding available through the RCOT Research Foundation will be focused on supporting studies addressing the top 10 priorities.

To ensure that people who access occupational therapy, their carers, OTs and other health and care professionals were involved in this new research project, RCOT partnered with the James Lind Alliance (JLA) in a Priority Setting Partnership to follow JLA’s inclusive process.

Established in 2004, the James Lind Alliance is a non-profit making initiative and its infrastructure is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It brings patients, carers and clinicians together in Priority Setting Partnerships (PSPs) to identify and prioritise the top 10 unanswered questions or evidence uncertainties that they agree are the most important.

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