O'Sullivan, Grace, New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy
The call for research which demonstrates that occupational therapy is an effective approach to health and well-being is ongoing (Baum, 2006; Gutman, 2010; Wilcock, 2006). Even though there is already a strong evidence base underpinning occupation and its relationship to health, more research is needed to augment existing evidence and to highlight the effectiveness and efficiency of occupational therapy intervention in the health care arena.
It is noteworthy then, that we lead with a study exploring occupational therapists' perceptions of the value of research. Authors Swedlove and Etcheverry, claim that research which informs occupational therapy practice is valued however; much of the published research does not support clinical practice and/ or, is often difficult to understand. As a result, the process of translating new knowledge into practice can be challenging.
The next article comes from Clark and Nayar who investigated the role of occupational therapists assisting people to recover from eating disorders. In this paper, the authors argued that occupational therapy has a key role to play in the recovery process. The findings call for research to show the significant and positive effect occupational therapy has on important domains of the recovery process.
Moving on, Lloyd and Bassett evaluated the role of occupational therapists working in a multidisciplinary team which was established to address the complex needs of homeless people. The report suggests that occupational therapy intervention is associated with improved outcomes for those receiving input. Nevertheless, the authors advocate that occupational therapists need to be very clear about the professional skills and knowledge that they bring to this specialized field of practice. In doing so, the authors call for research related to the occupational therapy role in other teams working with homeless people.
The final article in this edition comes from Topia and Hocking whose report on a literature review revealed interesting and promising evidence that Augmentative and Alternate Communication (AAC) systems promote language skills, literacy and cognitive development. The authors identified a lack of research related to occupational therapists working with people with communication deficits. They concluded that occupational therapists have a professional responsibility to advocate for AAC on behalf of people with communication deficits to develop their occupational potential, enhance participation, and foster self-determination.
The call for research in all of these articles indicates that one of the most important things occupational therapists can do is to become story tellers. Word of mouth is one way of sharing knowledge but the most powerful and recognized leaders in any discipline influence, and set the standards in teaching, practice and research through publication of their work. As my understanding of this reality increases I suggest that publishing articles, and in particular publishing original research and/or evidence-based practice, underpins a health profession's credibility. Publishing in this context does not simply mean getting a write up in the local paper, although that has great merit. Publications in professional Journals are more powerful.
That brings me back to the point I started out to make. Increasingly, occupational therapy Journal editors are seeking an impact factor. An impact factor gives an indication of a Journal's influence by measuring the frequency with which a published article is cited in other Journals within a specific year (Brown & Williams, 2011). …