Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Evidence-Based Information-Seeking Behaviors of Occupational Therapists: A Survey of Recent Graduates * *

Academic journal article Journal of the Medical Library Association

Evidence-Based Information-Seeking Behaviors of Occupational Therapists: A Survey of Recent Graduates * *

Article excerpt

For over a decade, occupational therapists have been engaged in a shift to an evidence-based practice (EBP) model, necessitating a concurrent emphasis on EBP in occupational therapy (OT) education. An essential element of this education is the development of information-seeking behaviors: how to locate, access, evaluate, and utilize the best available evidence in the course of answering a clinical question [I]. Indeed, prior studies [2-5] have pointed to the need to incorporate instruction on information-seeking behaviors into the curricula of OT programs.

Previous studies of occupational therapists' information-seeking behaviors have primarily focused on undergraduate degree programs [4, 6]. Powell and Case-Smith recently provided the first examination of information-seeking behaviors in master of occupational therapy (MOT) graduates [7]. Further study of MOT graduates' information-seeking behavior is needed to inform decisions related to curriculum and instruction.


In 2003, Pacific University's School of Occupational Therapy began to implement a new curriculum emphasizing EBP principles and incorporating EBP across didactic and clinical work. In 2008, Pacific University Library faculty began a collaboration with school of occupational therapy faculty to integrate new information-seeking instruction into the revised MOT curriculum. As a result, library faculty currently provide one class session in each EBP course (one per year, for a total of three sessions by the time students graduate). Library instruction builds from course to course to reduce redundancy and to gradually introduce more complex strategies.

The primary objective of this study is to provide an understanding of recent Pacific University MOT graduates' information-seeking behaviors to aid in planning the MOT EBP curriculum and related library instruction. In addition, by surveying graduates who have not experienced any of the current librarian-led EBP instruction, the results of the study can be used as a baseline for a later assessment of MOT graduates who have experienced the full librarian-led EBP progression.


An anonymous online survey (Appendix, online only) was used, adapted with permission from an existing questionnaire (created by Powell and Case-Smith [4]). No validation of the adapted instrument was completed for the purpose of this study, though input was received from Pacific University OT faculty. The study was approved by the Pacific University Institutional Review Board.

An invitation to participate in an EBP survey was emailed with the school of occupational therapy's regular alumni survey to all eighty-one alumni who had graduated between 2004 and 2008. A link to the survey was also posted on the school's home page. Using 2008 as the cutoff increased the likelihood that respondents would have had at least one year of clinical experience. An extra incentive (entry in a gift card drawing) was offered to alumni who completed the study's survey. Because the population was so small, a sample was not taken.

The survey opened in June 2009 and closed in August 2009, with email reminders (and postal reminders for bounced emails) sent in July 2009. Twenty-eight total responses were received. One response from outside the 2004-2008 range was excluded, and two responses were combined due to strong indications that they were from the same respondent. Descriptive statistics were derived from SurveyMonkey and Excel, and inferential statistics were computed using SPSS. (For some survey items, multiple responses were allowed and percentages may total more than 100%.)


There was an overall response rate of 32% (26/81) (Table 1, online only). Based on respondents' titles (25 of 26 responded), all participants were currently working as occupational therapists at the time of the survey. A majority worked in a psychiatric facility (4), a public or private school (4), or a skilled nursing or intermediate care facility (4). …

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