Building Capacity in Occupational Therapy Delivery: Supporting Intraprofessional Collaboration Preparation

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Avvampato, Teresa Rae-Anna
collaboration , contact theory , intraprofessional , occupational therapy , occupational therapist assistant , education , preparation , quality of care
In Canada, a shortage of occupational therapists (OTs) has led to increased collaboration with OT-assistants (OTAs) to improve access to service. OTs and OTAs in Canada are, however, not adequately prepared for intraprofessional collaboration (IntraPC), affecting the safety, efficiency, and quality of occupational therapy services. The purpose of this three-phased study was to support OT-OTA IntraPC preparation in the Canadian context. Phase 1 involved an environmental scan, including a survey with OT and OTA educators in Ontario, which revealed the need for resources to support OT-OTA IntraPC preparation. Focus groups with educators and recent graduates also emphasized the need for ready-made resources. Participants identified that online resources that provide essential knowledge would be most useful for supporting OT-OTA IntraPC preparation in Canada. Participants also recommended support from accrediting bodies, regulators, and associations for OT-OTA IntraPC and its preparation. In Phase 2, an online training resource was developed based on the needs identified in Phase 1. The resource explored the impact of OT-OTA IntraPC on the quality of occupational therapy services and presented the foundational knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours that OTs and OTAs need to work together effectively. Before its launch, the resources were peer-reviewed by 30 professionals. The results demonstrate that the resource effectively achieved its goal of presenting accurate, valid, and useful content to support OT-OTA IntraPC preparation in a user-friendly manner. In Phase 3, Canadian OT and OTA educators and clinicians evaluated the online resource. The evaluation investigated course access, self-rated competence for OT-OTA collaboration, and participant satisfaction. Participants reported increased self-perceived knowledge, understanding of collaborative practice, and intentions to make practice changes, marking a significant step in supporting OT-OTA collaboration preparation in Canada. In summary, this dissertation disseminates the development and adoption of a free online course designed to support OT-OTA IntraPC preparation in Canada. While the course offers foundational support, this dissertation underscores the need to provide a continuum of evidence-based OT-OTA IntraPC preparation opportunities, which emphasize contact, relationship-building, and mutual goal achievement. Macro-environmental barriers to OT-OTA IntraPC in Canada are also revealed and discussed, and recommendations are presented for health leaders.
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