Occupational TherapyWestern Health Sciences

Research Interests

The School of Occupational Therapy has highly qualified faculty with specialized areas of research including:

  • International migration
  • Francophone minority communities
  • Occupational science
  • Critical qualitative research methodologies
  • Environmental influences on participation
  • Primary care for older adults
  • Ethics
  • Health professional education and practice
  • Reflexive practice
  • Epistemic/Occupational justice
  • Chronic illness in adulthood
  • Technology in education
  • Child and youth mental health
  • Fieldwork
  • Preceptorship
  • Competency-based evaluation
  • Fitness-to-drive screening, assessment and intervention
  • Medically-at-risk drivers across the lifespan
  • Older drivers
  • Transportation and community mobility
  • Socio-political shaping of occupational inequities
  • Occupational possibilities and aging
  • Analysis of gait and balance within healthy and neurologically impaired populations
  • Concussion education and psychosocial implications on occupational identity

Research Facilities

i-Mobile Research Lab

Investigators: Sherrilene Classen, Jan Polgar

The i-Mobile Research Lab is multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, and uses international collaborations to focus its research on fitness to drive abilities and the use of mobility technology.

Fitness to Drive

Research in this area focuses on:

  • Researching fitness to drive abilities of at-risk older drivers, and medically-at-risk drivers
  • Examining predictive validity of driving screening tools and off-road clinical tests
  • Developing and examine culturally sensitive and context specific assessment batteries for fitness to drive
  • Testing intervention strategies for driving rehabilitation via simulated and/or on-road driving
  • Understanding participants’ lived experiences of driving cessation
  • Finding acceptable, accessible, available, and affordable alternative transportation options

Mobility Technology

Research in this area focuses on:

  • Usability of technology by older adults
  • How the use of technology enables occupation and community mobility
  • Access to and use of alternative transportation such as public transportation for community mobility

Interdisciplinary Health Professional Education and Practice Research Lab

Investigators: Elizabeth Anne Kinsella, Ann Bossers

Research in the Interdisciplinary Health Professional Education and Practice Research Lab includes the investigation of epistemologies of practice, or practice-based evidence in the health and social care professions. Research conducted in the lab examines:

  • Theoretical conceptualizations of professional knowledge
  • Researching professional practice
  • Developing professional education
  • Preceptor education
  • International fieldwork education
  • Ethical tensions in the professions
  • Occupational justice
  • Social inclusion for persons with disabilities.

Particular topics of attention include:

  • Reflective practice
  • Reflexivity
  • Critical reflection
  • Mindfulness
  • Embodied knowledge
  • Phronesis (practical wisdom)
  • Applied ethics
  • Ethical relationship
  • Ethical uses of power
  • Moral imagination
  • Feminist bioethics
  • Professional identity
  • Critical disability studies
  • Arts-based approaches to professional education
  • Interpretive and critical research
  • Philosophical foundations of qualitative research

Epistemologies of Practice & Everyday Occupation Research Lab

Investigator: Elizabeth Anne Kinsella

Research in the Epistimologies of Practice & Everyday Occupation Research Lab includes of epistemologies of practice, or practice-based evidence in the social care professions. Rsearch conducted in the lab examines:

  • Theoretical conceptualizations of professional knowledge
  • Researching professional practice
  • Developing professional education
  • Ethical tensions in the professions
  • Critical analysis of everyday occupations
  • Creative occupations
  • Social justice
  • Occupational justice
  • Social inclusion of persons with disabilities

Particular topics of attention include:

  • Reflective practice
  • Reflexivity
  • Critical reflection
  • Mindfulness
  • Embodied knowledge
  • Phronesis (practical wisdom)
  • Applied ethics
  • Ethical relationship
  • Ethical uses of power
  • Moral imagination
  • Feminist bioethics
  • Occupational identity
  • Critical disability studies
  • End of life care
  • Knowledge paradigms in occupational science
  • Arts-based approaches to professional education
  • Philosophical foundations of qualitative research

Interdisciplinary Movement Disorder Laboratory

Investigators: Jeff Holmes, Sandi Spaulding, Andrew Johnson, Mary Jenkins

The Interdisciplinary Movement Disorder Laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the assessment of gait, and posture. Research conducted within the lab focuses on the evaluation of both physical and psychosocial functioning, and the assessment of rehabilitation strategies within a variety of populations including Parkinson's disease and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Occupation, Aging and Communities Laboratory

Investigator: Carri Hand

Research conducted in the Occupation, Aging and Communities Laboratory focuses on older adults as they participate in occupations and engage socially in their communities and with their social networks. Researchers in the lab examine the interactions between person and environment and translate this knowledge into community action and primary health care services.

Child Health and Physical Activity Laboratory

Investigator: Trish Tucker

Through measurement and promotion, the Child Health & Physical Activity Laboratory is dedicated to better understanding the components that impact the physical activity levels of preschool-aged children and the environmental influences of physical activity in childcare settings.

Transcultural Research in Occupation Laboratory

Investigator: Lilian Magalhaes

The Transcultural Research Lab focuses on various conceptual and methodological approaches in doing transcultural research.

The lab strives to:

  • Address diversity and the interrelation of voice and power in research
  • Test and develop non-traditional methodological approaches
  • Address current discussions of emancipatory research
  • Include multilingual research projects in the lab portfolio

Critical Studies in Occupational Science Laboratory

Investigator: Debbie Rudman

Research in the Critical Studies in Occupational Science Lab seeks to further the understanding of occupational inequities and injustices. In particular, there is a focus on the integration of occupational science and critical social theory to examine the socio-political production of occupational inequities and injustices. Work within the lab also addresses the application of critical qualitative methodologies in the study of occupation. Specific foci include long-term unemployment, retirement, later life work, and the socio-political shaping of occupational possibilities.