Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Continuing education (CE) for occupational therapists typically takes place in workshops, seminars, or webinars with little support for practice change after the event concludes. Continuing education that occurs over an extended time with opportunities for social learning and competence assessment may improve knowledge translation. This study explored how pediatric occupational therapists who participated in a short-term, online learning community acquired new knowledge about evidence-based interventions from learning activities and how they applied this new knowledge to practice. Weekly modules with facilitated discussions, competency self-assessment, and peer-reviewed journal article readings occurred over a six-week period. An exploratory design included content analysis of participants’ online discussion postings, goal-setting activities, reflections, and a researcher-developed evaluation survey. Of the 19 participants who completed the evaluation survey, 17 participants indicated that the case simulation helped to assess their competence and that readings on evidence-based interventions obtained from ProQuestTM were helpful. All participants (n = 19) agreed that the learning community enriched their understanding of how to work with children and youth with autism spectrum disorder and they planned to apply new knowledge to their practice. Qualitative data analysis yielded two themes: becoming evidence-based and integrating evidence into practice. A community of occupational therapists with shared interests who participated in socially mediated learning opportunities with multiple educational components increased understanding and application of evidence-based interventions. Future research should investigate the relationship between engagement in a short-term learning community and application of evidence-based interventions with follow-up.


Christine T. Myers, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FNAP is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida where she serves as the director of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

Sandra Brown, PhD, OTR/L, BCP, BCBA, CAS is an assistant professor in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program in the School of Applied Health Sciences at Jacksonville University.

Ashley Parigian, MOT, OTR/L is a staff occupational therapist at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.

Declaration of Interest

Christine Myers was funded through a grant from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. For Sandra Brown and Ashley Parigian, no conflicts of interest or sources of funding were declared.

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.