SIIReN - System Integration & Innovation Research Network

Primary Health Care System


Strengthening Primary Care in Ontario: Describing and Connecting Canadian Occupational Therapists In Primary Care
Principal investigators:
Catherine Donnelly: Queen’s University
Carri Hand: Queen’s University
Leanne Leclair: University of Manitoba
Pam Wener: University of Manitoba
Lori Letts: McMaster University

Interprofessional primary care practice is a national priority. To support integration of occupational therapy to primary care and support research in this area, it is therefore critical to document examples
of occupational therapy in primary care.

To identify occupational therapists working in primary care settings across Canada, and describe occupational therapy roles and models of practice in primary care.

An electronic survey with open and closed questions was sent to occupational therapists identified across Canada. Participants were identified through a number of sampling strategies including national and provincial occupational therapy associations and snowball sampling. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the survey data.

Of the 157 survey respondents, 52 met the inclusion criteria of working in a primary care setting. Findings from the survey revealed that occupational therapists were almost exclusively working on multidisciplinary teams, some with shared goals, suggesting interprofessional practices. Intervention was largely provided with individual patients, followed by small and large groups. Services were provided both within the home/community and the clinic. Occupational therapists were predominately working with adults and older adults with services focused on health promotion and prevention. A number of supports to the integration of occupational therapy into primary care were identified and included; working in close proximity with team members; regular team members; and the electronic medical record. Barriers to the integration of occupational therapy included lack of understanding of the role of occupational therapy, time, funding, and traditional models of practice.

Conclusions: Occupational therapy’s philosophies, and services can bring a broad health promotion and prevention lens to multi-disciplinary primary care settings. Working in both the clinic and community can enhance access to services, particularly for those individuals who are frail and isolated and in most need of community supports.

Back to Seed Funding Projects