Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Entry-level programs are expected to support occupational therapy students in developing knowledge and skills pertaining to the change agent role. To do so, a detailed, multidimensional conceptualization of this role is necessary. To date, in the occupational therapy profession, there is no such conceptualization, which might impact educators’ ability to conduct relevant pedagogical activities. Our study aimed to explore the dimensions of the change agent role for occupational therapy practitioners. We undertook a scoping study of the scientific and grey literature up to August 31, 2018 to “map” what is known about the change agent role. We searched nine databases, including Medline and CINAHL, varying combined keywords according to the database. We also manually searched reference lists and 12 relevant websites. We examined data using thematic charts and analysis. From the 33 documents analyzed, we identified two change agent configurations: social and clinical. The social configuration operates at the macro-level (society) and is aimed at optimizing health and social justice for communities or populations. Actions include lobbying, using media, and assuming a formal duty in an advocacy group. At the micro-level (clinical setting), the intent of the clinical configuration is to inform, sustain and promote individual decision-making and protect civil rights. This involves discussions with clients to understand their values and provide information about rights and options. To play the change agent role, occupational therapy practitioners must acquire a variety of knowledge and skills. To develop their students’ ability to take on this important role, educators must tailor their pedagogical activities accordingly.


Annie Carrier, PhD, MSc, LLM, BA(psy), OT(c) is an assistant professor affiliated with the School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, and a researcher at the Research Centre on Aging, University Integrated Health and Social Services Centre of the Eastern Townships – Sherbrooke University Hospital (CIUSSS de l’Estrie–CHUS), Sherbrooke, Québec, 3001 12th Avenue North, Sherbrooke, Québec J1H 5N4. Phone: 819-821-8000 #72917, Fax: 819-820-6864, Email: Annie.Carrier@USherbrooke.ca.

Michaël Beaudoin, MAdm, Merg, OT(c) is an occupational therapist at the CIUSSS de l’Estrie–CHUS, and a research assistant at the Research Centre on Aging, CIUSSS de l’Estrie–CHUS.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.