Fidelity in sensory integration intervention research

Am J Occup Ther. 2007 Mar-Apr;61(2):216-27. doi: 10.5014/ajot.61.2.216.


Objective: We sought to assess validity of sensory integration outcomes research in relation to fidelity (faithfulness of intervention to underlying therapeutic principles).

Method: We identified core sensory integration intervention elements through expert review and nominal group process. Elements were classified into structural (e.g., equipment used, therapist training) and therapeutic process categories. We analyzed 34 sensory integration intervention studies for consistency of intervention descriptions with these elements.

Results: Most studies described structural elements related to therapeutic equipment and interveners' profession. Of the 10 process elements, only 1 (presentation of sensory opportunities) was addressed in all studies. Most studies described fewer than half of the process elements. Intervention descriptions in 35% of the studies were inconsistent with one process element, therapist-child collaboration.

Conclusion: Validity of sensory integration outcomes studies is threatened by weak fidelity in regard to therapeutic process. Inferences regarding sensory integration effectiveness cannot be drawn with confidence until fidelity is adequately addressed in outcomes research.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Somatosensory Disorders / therapy*
  • United States