50 Most Influential OT Research Articles
We become occupational therapists so we can provide holistic care to our clients.
We want to flex our creative muscles and exercise our compassion. We want to work alongside patients, sharing their joy and their pain—serving as guides as they reclaim their lives.
But for all the “softer” reasons that draw us to the profession, we OTs also have a strong analytical side.
We choose our career, on some level, for love of the science that holds it all together.
I say this because I want you to dive into this article with true love for OT in your heart. With a deep commitment to why we fell in love with our profession in the first place, and why it is vital that we stay current with research, even when we feel pulled in 10 different directions in a single day.
But let me step back for a moment, and let you know why I’m writing this article :-)
Why keeping up with medical developments is the biggest challenge of our OT generation
It’s no secret that medical professionals are having a tough time these days.
We shuttle from patient to patient, focused more on billable units and clunky EMRs than actual therapy.
And when we feel this way for too long, our thirst for new knowledge dies down.
We stop thinking about research as a method to further improve our patients’ lives, and instead consider it just another task to be completed. And, sadly, it’s a task that keeps getting pushed to the side as we focus on slogging through our days.
We OTs are affected each day by decreasing reimbursement and stagnating salaries—not to mention increased productivity expectations—and there’s no secret about it.
At least we’re talking about it, which is great.
However, the focus on burnout, productivity, and EMR headaches has masked an even more massive shift––and this might be the most troubling one at all. In fact, I will go so far as to say this will be the true challenge of our generation of occupational therapists:
We are not keeping up with medical advancements.
Recent years have shown an exponential growth of medical knowledge and discoveries—but we’re doing a TERRIBLE job of keeping up with these advances.
Here’s what I mean.
Consider this excerpt from a medical journal, where the authors are discussing the rapid advancement of medical knowledge (discoveries, advancements, research, etc.):
It is estimated that the doubling time of medical knowledge in 1950 was 50 years; in 1980, 7 years; and in 2010, 3.5 years. In 2020 it is projected to be 0.2 years—just 73 days. Students who began medical school in the autumn of 2010 will experience approximately three doublings in knowledge by the time they complete the minimum length of training (7 years) needed to practice medicine. Students who graduate in 2020 will experience four doublings in knowledge. What was learned in the first 3 years of medical school will be just 6% of what is known at the end of the decade from 2010 to 2020.
That’s a lot of numbers, and I had to read it about ten times to really absorb what it meant, and how profound its implications are. The gist is that we’re making insanely huge medical advancements and discoveries, but the info just isn’t being delivered to the actual clinicians for integration into our practice.
To quote the author:
“Knowledge is expanding faster than our ability to assimilate and apply it effectively; and this is as true in education and patient care as it is in research.”
Yes, it’s scary, but we OTs are hardly alone; this phenomenon is a problem throughout the medical field.
But, that does not let us as OTs off the hook.
I created this platform in 2012 with a simple mission: to share what is (and isn't) working in our OT practice.
Recently, my heart has really been pushing me to undertake the issue of evidence-based practice. I am so eager to help fight this information underload problem in our profession and help point you in the direction of resources that can elevate your profession—and are backed by science.
Will we be able to do it perfectly?
Will it be a huge learning curve?
But here’s to trying...together.
With that said, I’d like to share:
The 50 most-cited OT articles from the past five years
Just looking at this title makes my blood pump a little faster. Sifting through mountains of articles just to get to the top 50 articles is a lot of work, and when I started researching for this article, it felt overwhelming.
Luckily, I was able to team up with a research librarian to make this article happen.
I wanted to begin by looking at which articles were having the biggest impact throughout the medical community, and also mentioned OT.
Here are the articles, ranked by the number of times they were cited throughout medical literature:
An integrated palliative and respiratory care service for patients with advanced disease and refractory breathlessness: A randomised controlled trial (2014) The Lancet Respiratory Medicine
Interdisciplinary chronic pain management (2014) American Psychologist
Increased hospital-based physical rehabilitation and information provision after intensive care unit discharge: The RECOVER randomized clinical trial (2015) JAMA Internal Medicine
Stem cells as an emerging paradigm in stroke 3 enhancing the development of clinical trials (2014) Stroke
Effect of a task-oriented rehabilitation program on upper extremity recovery following motor stroke the ICARE randomized clinical trial (2016) JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Is a specialist breathlessness service more effective and cost-effective for patients with advanced cancer and their carers than standard care? Findings of a mixed-method randomised controlled trial (2014) BMC Medicine
Efficacy of occupational therapy for patients with Parkinson's disease: A randomised controlled trial (2014) The Lancet Neurology
An intervention for sensory difficulties in children with autism: A randomized trial (2014) Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Geriatric assessment-guided care processes for older adults: A Delphi consensus of geriatric oncology experts (2015) JNCCN Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Feasibility and safety of early combined cognitive and physical therapy for critically ill medical and surgical patients: The Activity and Cognitive Therapy in ICU (ACT-ICU) trial (2014) Intensive Care Medicine
Rehabilitation of motor function after stroke: A multiple systematic review focused on techniques to stimulate upper extremity recovery (2016) Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Universal newborn screening for congenital CMV infection: What is the evidence of potential benefit? (2014) Reviews in Medical Virology
Feasibility of articulated arm mounted oculus rift virtual reality goggles for adjunctive pain control during occupational therapy in pediatric burn patients (2014) Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
2016 update of the EULAR recommendations for the management of early arthritis (2017) Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases
An International Definition for "Nursing Home" (2015) Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
Screening for autism spectrum disorder in young children US preventive services task force recommendation statement (2016) JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
A task-specific interactive game-based virtual reality rehabilitation system for patients with stroke: A usability test and two clinical experiments (2014) Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation for Parkinson's disease: Current outlook and future challenges (2016) Parkinsonism and Related Disorders
Connectivity measures are robust biomarkers of cortical function and plasticity after stroke (2015) Brain
A perioperative cost analysis comparing single-level minimally invasive and open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (2014) Spine Journal
Complex regional pain syndrome : An optimistic perspective (2015) Neurology
Occupational therapy code of ethics (2015) American Journal of Occupational Therapy
Cognitive symptom management and rehabilitation therapy (CogSMART) for veterans with traumatic brain injury: Pilot randomized controlled trial (2014) Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Intravenous Bisphosphonate Therapy of Young Children with Osteogenesis Imperfecta: Skeletal Findings during Follow Up Throughout the Growing Years (2015) Journal of Bone and Mineral Research
Work-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy and individual job support to increase work participation in common mental disorders: A randomised controlled multicentre trial (2015) Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Weekly variation in health-care quality by day and time of admission: a nationwide, registry-based, prospective cohort study of acute stroke care (2016) The Lancet
Priority setting partnership to identify the top 10 research priorities for the management of parkinson's disease (2015) BMJ Open
PLAY project home consultation intervention program for young children with autism spectrum disorders: A randomized controlled trial (2014) Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Cortical changes underlying balance recovery in patients with hemiplegic stroke (2014) NeuroImage
Belonging, occupation, and human well-being: An exploration (2014) Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy
Feasibility of high-repetition, task-specific training for individuals with upper-extremity paresis (2014) American Journal of Occupational Therapy
Virtual reality for upper extremity rehabilitation in early stroke: A pilot randomized controlled trial (2014) Clinical Rehabilitation
Upper limb robot-assisted therapy in cerebral palsy: A single-blind randomized controlled trial (2015) Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair
Locomotion improvement using a hybrid assistive limb in recovery phase stroke patients: A randomized controlled pilot study (2014) Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
EFNS/ENS Consensus on the diagnosis and management of chronic ataxias in adulthood (2014) European Journal of Neurology
Burnout among physicians (2014) Libyan Journal of Medicine
Effect of early rehabilitation during intensive care unit stay on functional status: Systematic review and meta-analysis (2015) PLoS ONE
Improving functional disability and cognition in parkinson disease randomized controlled trial (2014) Neurology
The prevalence of potentially modifiable functional deficits and the subsequent use of occupational and physical therapy by older adults with cancer (2015) Journal of Geriatric Oncology
Extended roles for allied health professionals: An updated systematic review of the evidence (2014) Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
A qualitative study exploring the usability of nintendo wii fit among persons with multiple sclerosis (2014) Occupational Therapy International
Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy vs No Therapy in mild to moderate Parkinson disease (2016) JAMA Neurology
An environmental scan for early mobilization practices in U.S. ICUs (2015) Critical Care Medicine
Impact of early mobilization on glycemic control and ICU-acquired weakness in critically ill patients who are mechanically ventilated (2014) Chest
Patterns of sensory processing in children with an autism spectrum disorder (2014) Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Translating knowledge in rehabilitation: Systematic review (2015) Physical Therapy
Collaborative approach in the development of high-performance brain-computer interfaces for a neuroprosthetic arm: Translation from animal models to human control (2014) Clinical and Translational Science
Structural white matter changes in descending motor tracts correlate with improvements in motor impairment after undergoing a treatment course of tDCS and physical therapy (2015) Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Professional perspectives on service user and carer involvement in mental health care planning: A qualitative study (2015) International Journal of Nursing Studies
The effect of multidisciplinary rehabilitation on brain structure and cognition in Huntington's disease: An exploratory study (2015) Brain and Behavior
Hopefully, in this list you find some articles that could help you provide up-to-date, evidence based care for to your clients.
If you would like to dig into these articles further, I invite you to join the OT Potential Club.
The OT Potential Club is an online journal club, and each week I will be reviewing an article from this list. I’ll do my best to make the review actionable for you and provide assessment and documentation tips whenever applicable.