Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Student well-being is an increasing area of concern within higher education and one of the biggest causes of attrition. This study sought to investigate the potential for sensory modulation strategies as an approach to support student well-being and engagement in studies through an action research project. Sixteen second-year occupational therapy students took part in a two-week trial of items designed to support sensory modulation, following which they were asked to complete an online survey evaluating the effectiveness of the item in relation to affect, regulation, attention, and activity. Eight students completed the survey containing a mix of Likert scale and free text responses. Results of the surveys were analyzed through descriptive statistical analysis of numerical data and quantitative content analysis of textual data informed by a pre-existing framework derived from a model of Sensory Integration. While preliminary in nature, the results of the survey suggested a positive impact on affect, specifically anxiety, overall regulation, and ability to engage in studies, suggesting a connection between these factors. An additional code was identified during the analysis of strategy mismatch to reflect barriers encountered relating to the extent of and longevity of use of the strategies. Further research on a larger scale is needed to more fully investigate the potential of this approach for facilitating increased student well-being.


Rebecca Matson, MSc, PGDip, BA is a lecturer and lead practice placement tutor within the Occupational Therapy Programme at the School of Health Sciences. She is an Advanced Practitioner in Sensory Integration with a clinical background in in-patient mental health settings.

Jo Linforth, MSc is an Occupational Therapy lecturer and Director of Student Support for the School of Health Sciences at the University of Liverpool. Jo is a cognitive behavioural therapist with experience in community mental health in a variety of education roles including secondary education and practice education.

Julie Hanna, MRes, BA Hons, PG Dip, Dip COT, Dip Couns is a lecturer and director of studies in the occupational therapy department at the University of Liverpool. Julie has 25 years experience in the NHS with practitioner and leadership roles in specialist mental health services and local government sectors.

Vikki Barnes-Brown, BSc (Hons), MALT, FHEA is Professional Lead Occupational Therapist at the University of Liverpool. Prior to joining the university, she practiced as an OT for over 15 years in a variety of settings, including community paediatrics, CAMHS and Intermediate care.

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.