Document Type (Journals)
Health professional students, including occupational therapy students, report increasing rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout while completing their academic programs of study. Self-care is one potential solution to this crisis, as engagement in evidence-based self-care practices has been found to improve the health and well-being of various student populations; however, the self-care practices of occupational therapy students have not been well studied. Therefore, this study explored how occupational therapy students understand and practice self-care, and how self-care correlates to perceived stress. Twenty participants engaged in a focus group and completed a 72-hour time diary. Focus group results indicated that participants highly valued their self-care practices, reporting that self-care improves their well-being, is a skill that must be developed, and plays a critical role in occupational therapy practice. Time diaries revealed that the most frequently recorded self-care occupations were sleeping/napping, meal preparation/eating, and watching television and other streaming services. Total time spent in self-care practices ranged from 9-55 hours, and duration of self-care was not found to correlate with perceived stress or demographic variables. Results demonstrate that the type of self-care activities in which students engage may be more beneficial than duration of self-care alone. Students may benefit from further skill development in self-care to improve their current and future well-being. Occupational therapy educators have the opportunity to assist in developing this skill through intentional programming.
Isabelle Laposha, OTD, OTR/L is an occupational therapist practicing in St. Louis, MO. She completed this project in partial fulfillment of her doctoral degree at the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO.
Stacy Smallfield, DrOT, MSOT, OTR/L, BCG, FAOTA is Associate Program Director, Doctoral Capstone Coordinator, and Associate Professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy Education, College of Allied Health Professions, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She was affiliated with the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, at the time of this project.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Laposha, I., & Smallfield, S. (2022). Self-Care: An Occupational Therapy Student Perspective. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 6 (1). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2022.060105
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