Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Previous literature explored the concepts of stress, mindfulness, and occupational engagement, yet there is a substantial gap linking these terms within the field of occupational therapy (OT). The researchers identified a need to investigate the perceptions of these concepts among graduate-level OT students and its impact on their quality of life and occupational balance. Current research identified mindfulness and occupational engagement as healthy coping strategies for reducing stress and both concepts emphasized the action of being fully present and engaged. The exploratory mixed-methods study consisted of 490 students from graduate-level OT programs throughout the United States. Results revealed that the majority of participants experienced high levels of stress while in graduate school. The findings indicated that stress, academic responsibilities, and limited application of coping strategies impacted the ability to engage in meaningful activities. Participants identified mindfulness as an effective coping mechanism, which included strategies of deep breathing, journaling, and meditation in addition to the act of being mindful through self-reflection and self-awareness. Although participants reported positive views of mindfulness to decrease stress, the reported use did not appear to alter the participants’ perceptions of quality of life. Findings suggested a lack of occupational engagement in meaningful activities negatively impacted the participants’ perceived quality of life and occupational balance. The study provided support for strengthening the connection between the constructs of mindfulness and occupational engagement. The study has broad implications for the field of OT and its applicability to stress management in both academic and professional settings.


Patricia Henton, OTD, OTR/L, ICA, CEIM is an Assistant Professor of Huntington University’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program. She has over 25 years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist working in a variety of practice areas, including early intervention and school-based practice. She serves as a faculty advisor for research and capstone projects involving pediatric practice and occupational therapy education.

Caroline Targonski, OTD, Acacia Gambrel, OTD, Catherine Rink, OTD, and Sarah Wirtz, OTD, are recent graduates of the Huntington University Occupational Therapy Doctoral program.

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.