#OTalk Research 7th April 2020 Overcoming Barriers to Engaging in Research

This weeks OTalk Research is hosted by Suzanne Simpson @SimpsonResearch here is what she had to say. 


During my time at my first NHS trust I developed an interest in the invisible injuries patient’s experience as a result of an acquired brain injury (ABI) thanks to some inspiring colleagues. As a band 6 I developed my knowledge and skills in cognitive assessment and intervention alongside neuropsychologists and experienced occupational therapists. I started to see the inequality in the care available to those with physical impairments compared to cognitive impairments, with the latter often missed by the multi-disciplinary team or not able to access appropriate rehabilitation (Benedictus et al, 2010; Turner-Stokes, 2003; Sinclair et al, 2014). My interest in ABI and cognitive impairments continued as I worked for other trusts eventually leading to me working at The Walton Centre. 

One afternoon in 2015 my therapy manager asked whether any staff members would be interested in applying for a part time funded MRes. My thought: ‘I can’t; I’m not clever enough’ as I had flashbacks to my undergraduate days. With lots of encouragement and support from the team I applied, was interviewed and I was offered one of only two funded places. The bulk of the course focused on the completion of a research project requiring full NHS ethical approval. I chose to carry out a feasibility study exploring the use of a cognitive functional screening tool I’d developed. The outcome of the study was that the tool required development to establish its validity and reliability. However within The Walton Centre the tool is used by members of the MDT (Vascular Nurses, Trauma Therapy Coordinator) in collaboration with the occupational therapists on the ward to inform referral for further functional assessment. From a personal perspective I loved the experience of leading my own research and changing practice, I wanted more! The research bug had well and truly taken hold. I graduated from Edge Hill University with a Masters in Clinical and Health Research in 2018.

Fast forward to March 2020. I’m working in a unique and innovative new role implementing evidence based practice and influencing service developments with the aim to improve the psychological wellbeing of people living with motor neurone disease. Alongside this role I’m the trust’s Making Every Contact Count Lead, supporting staff to help our patients lead healthier lives. Both roles use a lot of the skills I developed during my MRes. I’m proud to say I currently hold an honorary research associate role with Liverpool University and I was awarded a National Institute for Health Research NHS Research & Development North West Bridging Scheme. I’m involved with the North West Coast Applied Research Collaboration and I’m contributing to their work around social prescribing an area I’ve developed a keen interest in. Alongside Salford University Occupational Therapy they are supporting me to build an application for a doctoral fellowship.

In 2019 the Royal College of Occupational Therapists published the RCOT Research and Development Strategy 2019–2024. In recognition of the changing landscape the strategy states that ‘it is crucial that we use evidence-based interventions, robustly evidence the impact and the cost-effectiveness of our services, and continue to expand the evidence base, particularly as the scope and nature of practice evolves. Engaging in and with research is therefore central to the role of every occupational therapist in the UK, wherever they work.’

There is considerable evidence of the challenges that occupational therapists face when trying to engage in research and these have been discussed in previous #OTalk Research chats.   There is however less evidence of how to overcome such challenges.  This #OTalk Research chat will explore some very practical approaches through my own individual journey with the hope of inspiring and generating creative solutions to support others.  You never know you might catch the research bug too. 


  1. What is inspiring/what inspired you to get involved in research?
  2. How did you take your ideas or clinical questions forward?
  3. How have you overcome the challenges in your own areas?
  4. What helped i.e. who/what/how/when?
  5. What have you learned that might help others?
  6. What would be your one top tip to any occupational therapist considering involvement in research? 


Post Chat Updates:

Online Transcript from HealthCare#

PDF of transcript: #OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript April 7th 2020

The Numbers

2.640M Impressions
464 Tweets
63 Participants

#OTalk Participants





#OTalk 31st March 2019 – Occupational Therapy’s role in Domestic Violence

@Alannah_OT is our guest host this week this is what she has to say

This topic is sensitive and difficult and I want to ensure that the appropriate warnings are in place for conversations that may take place during this OTalk for anyone who has experienced domestic violence.

Last year I wrote an essay for one of my final assignments in my degree. We were given the opportunity to choose an area of practice that may be considered contemporary or role emerging. I chose to write on the topic of what an occupational therapists role would look like working with survivors of domestic violence and trauma. It is an area that I wanted to educate myself on but also to understand what services and support look like for survivors. I have summarized my findings below.

Domestic violence  is serious issue in society, where human rights are not fulfilled which emphasizes he restriction of participation in meaningful occupations (Townsend et al., 2010). Domestic violence is a pattern of incidents of controlling, degrading, threatening, and violent behaviour (Women’s Aid, 2018), that an estimated 70 percent of women worldwide have experienced in their lifetime (WHO, 2013; UN Women,2018). Syron (2010) suggests that domestic violence disrupts an individual’s participation and engagement in meaningful occupations, daily living and social interactions, causing survivors to experience aloss of empowerment, self-esteem, loss of identity and quality of life (Underwood, 2009; Dysinger et al., 2015).Occupational therapists have person- centered, therapeutic reasoning, and analytical skills to address occupation-related and well-being concerns of survivors of domestic violence (Dysinger, 2011; Dysinger, 2015), facilitating an individual’s ability to participate in meaningful occupations, leisure, work, play, and activities of daily living (Helfrich et al., 2006; Underwood, 2009; Jahaverian, 2010). Though there are occupational therapy roles that involve domestic violence history or trauma, there is limited evidence to demonstrate the success in practice or where these practices are taking place.

A survey completed by survivors showed inconsistent care in services across the UK, with many areas offering generic services without specialized input (Coy et al., 2009; Roddy, 2013). Wilson, Fauci, and Goodman (2015) suggest bringing trauma-informed practice to domestic violence programs, which develops goals and needs from an individual’s experience of trauma and considers their choice, control, and safety. This topic exposed gaps in current practice, revealing that occupational therapists may have inadequate knowledge and negative views about the area of domestic violence and unwilling to veer away from traditional practice (Hammell, 2018).

The aim of the OTalk is to encourage a conversation around occupational therapists experience, knowledge, views, and skills in working with individuals who have experienced trauma through domestic violence.

  1. Do you have any experience working with individuals who have experienced domestic violence? If so, what setting?
  2. What do you think are the occupational disruptions of survivors of domestic violence?
  3. What do you think the occupational therapy role can provide for survivors or people who are currently experiencing domestic violence?
  4. Do you think  occupational therapists could do more to explore and implement trauma-informed care for this population?
  5. What do you think are the key challenges of implementing occupational therapy in domestic violence services? If so, how could this be challenged?


Hammel, K. (2018) ‘Opportunities for well-being: The right to occupational engagement’, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 84(4-5), pp. 209-222. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0008417417734831(Accessed: 4 November 2018).

Jahavarian-Dysinger, H., et al. (2015) ‘Occupational Needs and Goals of Survivors of Domestic Violence’, Occupational Therapy in Healthcare, 30(2), pp. 175-186. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/07380577.2015.1109741 (Accessed: 2 November 2018).

Javaherian-Dysinger, H. and Underwood, R. (2011) ‘Occupational Therapy Services for Individuals Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6), pp. S32-S35. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.6.704.

Javaherian-Dysinger,H. and Underwood, R. ( 2011 ) ‘Occupational therapy services for individuals who have experienced domestic violence’, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6), pp.32-45.

Syron,C. (2010) ‘The Role of Occupational Therapy with Domestic Violence Survivors’, Emerging Practice CATS, 2. Available at:https://commons.pacificu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.co.uk/&httpsredir=1&article=1003&context=emerge(Accessed: 30 October 2018).

Underwood, R. (2009). Care of self: Construction of subjectivities of low-income, female survivors of domestic violence as they pursue postsecondary education. University of Georgia: Athens.

UN Women (2018) Facts and figures: Ending violence against women. Available at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures(Accessed: November 12 2018).

World Health Organization (2018) Violence Against Women. Availabe at: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women (Accessed: 7 November 2018).

Women’s Aid (2018) What is Domestic Abuse?. Available at: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/what-is-domestic-abuse/ (Accessed: 7 November 2018).

Post Chat Updates:

Online Transcript from HealthCare#

PDF of Transcript: #OTalk Healthcare Social Media Transcript March 30th 2020

The Numbers

1.429M Impressions
296 Tweets
58 Participants

#OTalk Participants



#OTalk – 24th March 2020 – Experiences of the Journey From a Service User to a Professional.

This week @GeorgiaVineOT and @margaretOT360 will be hosting here is what they had to say.

Being able to empathise rather than just sympathise with a service user will enable a better therapeutic relationship but, when the understanding is so strong it can be challenging to deal with the emotional response.

I’ve always been open about that fact that I’ve had occupational therapy input when talking with service users, and I always will be, although, because I have had occupational therapy myself it holds me back during intervention implementation.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am very determined and like to aim high in anything I do especially when it comes to my studies, but this emotional barrier is proving to be more difficult to get over than I initially thought.

I’ve had OT input ever since I was born and have always been a service user so, it’s hard to believe that I’m suddenly playing a collaborative role in the professional decision-making process. It’s okay that I feel this way and I’m grateful that my previous educator pointed this out as without her input I probably wouldn’t have realised it was holding me back so much and that’s even worse. This is because if I didn’t know what the problem was then how could I have done anything about it? Not that I’ve reflected I think I was holding back as I didn’t believe in my professional capabilities since I’vealways been the service user. Although I’m not a service user now it’s still hard to believe that I’m the professional as the tables have been completely turned.

Supervision is key, placement is a massive learning opportunity and, it enables me to make more sense of my situation and gain insight into what my limitations are going to be in the world of work.

Due to my disability being so visible I can’t make a clinically reasoned decision to disclose.

I’m always going to get questions about my disability and my capabilities within occupational therapy. These questions don’t annoy me as such because me disability is always going to be the elephant in the room, we all know how diverse OT is, so I know there is a role out there for me. However, I’d be lying if I said that at times, I don’t question myself about my future role.

Am I a service user, a student, a healthcare professional or all 3? At times I get confused over who I am, and which role plays the biggest part. Am I lacking in confidence because I’m a student or is it because I’ve been on the other side of the fence? I’m still working on this transition as it’s not going to happen overnight and will be a slow process.

As a second-year student this transition needs to happen sooner rather than later, because I have only got one more placement left after this one, and I want to feeling competent.

Now, I am doing a ground-breaking, virtual placement my confidence has grown, as I now know the area of OT that I want to work in, but due to that nature of my virtual I’ve had minimal contact with services users. In which this makes me feel a bit apprehensive for my next placement as when I go on placement it will be over a year since I’ve had face-to-face service user contact.

I want to leave the course feeling like I gave it my all with my personal experiences adding to my journey.

I wanted to do an OTalk to ask questions to those who may have had similar experiences, to enable me to make sense of my situation in order for me to reflect on my past, present and future as part of my placement experience …

Q1. What experience do you have of being a service user e.g. family members, personally, or an extended family member?

Q2. How does this experience effect your own views on the delivery of occupational therapy and its values?

Q3. Have you ever been in a situation as a therapist where you’ve had to disclose your own experiences of being a service user, if so, how did this affect the outcome?

Q4. What is the most useful piece information you could share with the OT community, about your experiences to enhance practice?

Q5. What online communities are you or your client’s part of, and how is access to these communities useful to you?

Post Chat Updates

Online Transcript from HealthCare#

PDF of Transcript: #OTalk 23 March 2020

The Numbers

1.902M Impressions
544 Tweets
46 Participant

#OTalk Participants


Occupation During Isolation

As a team of occupational therapists, we are aware that CoronaVirus will significantly impact on daily life, and we would like to hear your ideas for engaging in occupations, whilst socially distancing and self isolation.


The Government advice is regularly being updating and you can keep up to date on their website. Link above

We would like this to remain responsible and kind, please tweet your ideas for safeguarding health and well-being through occupation, and tag us @otalk_ #OTalk #occupationInIsolation #occupationalTherapy

Let’s come to together as a community.


#OTalk 17th March 2020 – Student vision and internationalisation with @SPOTeurope

This week SPOT EUROPE BOARD @SPOTeurope are hosting here is what they had to say

As the SPOT Europe Board, we aim to encourage and increase internationalisation and OT student connection across Europe, as well as ensure students voices are heard in the development of Occupational Therapy education. We are passionate about using the board to connect with other students to exchange experiences, opportunities, knowledge and ideas.

The idea was developed at the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education (ENOTHE) Congress and since then has made huge progress! SPOTeurope is run by students for students and, as such, thrives on new students getting involved.


What does internationalisation mean to you and what opportunities have you had in your curriculum / practice for this

What is your vision for internationalisation? And how could this impact your studies /practice.

Has your vision of internationalisation changed since starting your studies / practice?

What opportunities do you wish you could have for internationalisation? What skills and challenges are there to this?

The SPOTeurope Board

Post chat updates:

Online transcript from HealthCare#

PDF of transcript: #OTalk 17 March 2020

The Numbers

2.170M Impressions
412 Tweets
31 Participants

#OTalk Participants