Primary Focus: Mental Health
- Objective 1: Identify and describe occupational therapy’s role in promoting healthy behaviors in individuals with serious mental illness.
- Objective 2: Discuss current evidence supporting interventions that fall within occupational therapy’s scope of practice for individuals with serious mental illness.
- Objective 3: Describe the clinical implications of the findings to OT practice and research.
A substantial number of adults in America are living with a serious mental illness (SMI). Individuals with SMI demonstrate a high prevalence of various chronic diseases. Mental health plays a major role in an individual’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors, such as physical activity, diet, sleep, and medication management4. Occupational therapists (OTs) are trained to address the areas that directly impact maintaining a healthy lifestyle for individuals with SMI. Authors conducted an exhaustive literature search and critical review to find evidence supporting OTs role in promoting healthy behaviors for individuals with SMI. The database search included: CINAHL, PsycINFO, and PubMed. Articles were included if published within the past five years, addressed adults with a primary medical diagnosis of SMI, and were within the OT scope of practice. Authors excluded substance abuse disorders, eating disorders, and interventions directed at caregivers. Articles were critiqued using the Evaluation of Quality of an Intervention Study1, Critical Review Form- Qualitative Studies 2, and PRISMA Checklist3.
Review of the literature supports OTs role in promoting healthy behaviors for individuals with SMI. Authors found evidence to support interventions within, and enhanced by, the OT scope of practice; motivation as an integral aspect of adherence to treatment; and a need to measure outcomes that fall within the OT scope of practice. The literature search yielded several clinical and research implications for OTs role in promoting healthy behaviors for individuals with SMI. The literature revealed a deficit in the areas of motivation and adherence, occupation-based interventions, routines and habits, and the impact of social participation on healthy behaviors. OTs are uniquely positioned to address these areas with our scope of knowledge, assessments, evaluations and theories. Additionally, the literature revealed an underrepresentation of OT within interdisciplinary treatment teams. One component of this is a lack of understanding of OTs contribution in promoting healthy behaviors in individuals with SMI. Findings also indicate a possible lack of advocacy by OTs in the area of mental health. Furthermore, the literature was exclusively published by professionals outside of OT. These findings indicate that OTs need to perform high-level research to support the role of OT in promoting healthy behaviors for individuals with SMI.
Presentation: 42 minutes
Recommended CitationHarkins, OTS, Alexandra; Leizerovich, OTS, Elise; Shieh Fiuczynski, M.Ed, OTS, Elizabeth; Pisapia, M.Ed, OTS, Sasha; and Shipman - Meyer, Bethany, "Promoting Health in Mental Health" (2014). Collaborative Research and Evidence shared Among Therapists and Educators (CREATE Day). Paper 26.