Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctoral Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Teresa Wickboldt


Doctor of Occupational Therapy


The rates of mental illness remain high with one in five experiencing a mental health diagnosis with estimates expected to rise significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic (National Alliance for Mental Illness, n.d.; USA Facts, 2021). At the same time, mental health treatment has undergone significant changes over the last few decades. Treatment models have shifted to focus on preventative and community-based care, shorter lengths of acute inpatient hospital stay, and a strong push by multiple stakeholders to measure the quality outcomes of care. In healthcare settings, there is a strong drive amongst hospital leadership to improve health outcomes with measurable outcomes, enhanced patient experience, and reduced healthcare costs (Institute for Improved Healthcare, 2021).

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has published guidelines and evidence-based practice standards for mental health; however, the acute inpatient mental health setting has not yet been adequately reflected in the research. While we believe that we play a vital role in helping our clients with a critical mental health hospitalization recover and resume their quality of life, what evidence is there to guide our treatment interventions and advocate for the value of our care? Despite our professional roots in mental health, this practice area has struggled to develop and maintain research standards to further inform good practice.

The aim of this project was to raise awareness of the current practice dilemma for mental health, provide education on the current literature of interventions that reduce readmissions, and the implications or recommendations for occupational therapists. The knowledge translation projects were disseminated in three approaches. The first method was education provided to occupational therapy practitioners, educators, and students through a continuing education webinar with the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA). The second project included a poster session and presentation that was presented to practitioners, educators, and students hosted by MOTA. Lastly, the third way the knowledge was translated was through an article written to be submitted for publication in OT Practice magazine.

The three knowledge translation projects targeted increasing awareness of the effective interventions that reduce the likelihood of readmission to an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Through a review of the evidence, strong research studies have proven that using a recovery- oriented model to provide psychoeducation and discharge planning for individuals in an inpatient setting is effective at decreasing readmission rates. Occupational therapy is in direct alignment with the recovery model, but more research is needed on the role of OT within inpatient mental health settings, and more globally on the effectiveness of our interventions for mental health conditions, and the role we provide as vital members of the treatment team.