Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Stress and disengagement from meaningful occupations are barriers graduate students face daily. This mixed methods study aimed to investigate the effectiveness of the nine-minute Huntington Occupational Mindfulness and Engagement (HOME) protocol for occupational therapy (OT) graduate students to re-engage in meaningful occupations. Participants (N=29) were selected through a convenience sample at a Midwestern university’s OT doctoral program and randomly assigned to either an experimental HOME Protocol group or a control journaling group. Students completed the Coping Orientation to Problems (COPE) Inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) as pre and post assessments and received training in the assigned protocols. For four weeks, participants utilized their designated protocols at least one time per week. Following data collection, optional focus groups provided insight into participants’ perceived engagement and use of the protocols. Data analyzed through paired t-tests and independent samples t-tests demonstrated significance in the reduction of stress levels (d=-1.595; pd=1.106; p=.001) for the experimental group using the HOME Protocol. No significant difference was found between change scores of the experimental and control groups. Qualitative data revealed themes of Habit Formation, Management of Stress and Overwhelming Feelings, and Re-focus for Re-engagement in Activity. Integrated analysis of qualitative and quantitative data supported the HOME Protocol as a beneficial tool for students’ re-engagement in meaningful activities. The pilot study suggested positive benefits for increasing engagement and decreasing stress levels when using the HOME Protocol. Further research is indicated to determine its effectiveness when expanded to other academic programs that allow for a larger, more diverse sample.


Laura Gerig, Ph.D. is a faculty member in the psychology department at Taylor University and a former member of the faculty of Huntington University’s Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy. She currently teaches a variety of undergraduate psychology courses with a focus in human development, mental health, and assessment.

Patricia Henton, OTD, OTR/L, ICA, CEIM is a faculty member of Huntington University’s Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy. She has over 25 years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist. Patricia serves as a faculty advisor for research in the areas of early intervention, school-based practice, and education.

Megan Butterweck, OTD; Jory Swider, OTD; Laura Cameron, OTD; and Kaylee Marihugh, OTD are graduates from Huntington University's Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Kathryn Close, Ed.D. received her terminal degree in Educational Psychology from Regent University. She is an assistant professor and program chair of psychology at the University of the Southwest in New Mexico. She enjoys the research process and her areas of focus are related to self-talk, cognitive psychology, and mindfulness.

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.