Examining the intersection of policy and occupational therapy: A scoping review

Can J Occup Ther. 2019 Jun;86(3):185-195. doi: 10.1177/0008417419833183. Epub 2019 Apr 25.


Background.: Policy has direct bearing on occupational therapy practice and is a key dimension of the environment. To date, there has not been a synthesis of how policy is addressed in the occupational therapy literature.

Purpose.: The purpose of this review is to identify and analyze the ways that policy is addressed in the occupational therapy literature.

Method.: We conducted a scoping review of literature on policy and occupational therapy. Articles were analyzed deductively using a policy framework and inductively to identify overarching themes.

Findings.: Sixty-four papers were included for analysis. We present the descriptive information of the included articles according to policy type, sphere of action, stage of policy development, level, and actors. The qualitative analysis uncovered two broad concepts: "awareness" about the relationship between policy and practice and messages pertaining to "action."

Implications.: There are numerous areas for further research into the policy-occupational therapy nexus, as policy has numerous pathways to shape practice. Practitioners will benefit from better understanding these pathways and actively engaging to align policy with the values of the profession.

Keywords: Decision making; Environment; Environnement; Gouvernement; Government; Organization policy; Politique de l’organisation; Politique publique; Prise de décision; Public policy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Health Policy*
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Policy Making*