Document Type (Journals)

Original Research


Declining occupational therapy student mental health and well-being is well described in the literature. However, there is a lack of literature describing recommendations from the student perspective that could help academic programs as they develop and implement support programming. Involving students in the process can be beneficial as they are experts in their experiences. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to describe recommendations current occupational therapy students had for their academic programs to best support them during their educational experience. The study sample consisted of 628 entry-level masters and doctoral occupational therapy students from 31 states. Participant responses to one open-ended question compromised the raw data. Data was analyzed line by line using a multi-tiered coding process. Five themes emerged from the data related to faculty/student interactions, in-classroom learning, out of classroom support, programmatic recommendations, and no recommendations. Many of the participants’ recommendations were consistent with the general recommendations found in the literature. However, occupational therapy academic programs could incorporate the participants’ recommendations into their local level programming while also highlighting occupational therapy’s distinct values. To promote student well-being, consider all contexts and factors that impact their students’ occupational performance and incorporating meaningful, occupation-based activities inside and outside of the classroom. As occupational therapy programs are successful in supporting their students, they could contribute to their university systems’ wider campus efforts highlighting the profession’s unique role in promoting health and well-being.


Elena Wong Espiritu (PhD, OTD, OTR/L, BCPR) is an Associate Professor in the School of Occupational Therapy at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. She teaches in both the master’s and entry-level doctorate programs. One of Dr. Espiritu’s research interests is promoting student well-being through engaging in meaningful occupations.

Hanna McClain (OTD, OTR/L) is a graduate of Belmont University’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program. She is currently working as an occupational therapist in outpatient pediatrics and adult acute care. Hanna worked on this manuscript as part of her doctoral capstone project.

R. David Phillippi (PhD) is an Assistant Professor in the Inman College of Nursing at Belmont University where he teaches statistics, quality improvement, and evidence-based practice. He earned his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee in 2007.

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.