Open Access Capstone
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Background: According to productive aging initiatives from the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapy practitioners play an integral role in advancing and promoting wellness and independence of adults in later life. Evidence has indicated that numerous occupational therapy interventions can enhance the quality of life and functional ability levels of older adults and may be modified to target the needs of older adults who experience the threat of hunger.
Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study is to explore how occupational therapy practitioners view their role in enhancing older adults’ healthy eating behaviors and reducing the risk of food insecurity through the use of client-centered interventions tailored to food-related activities. The study aimed to answer the following research questions:
1. How do occupational therapy practitioners perceive their role related to food insecurity in older adults?
2. How do occupational therapy practitioners use strategies and barriers to enhance food-related activity participation in later life?
Theoretical Framework. The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO) is a holistic model that considers multiple factors that influence a person’s occupational performance (Kielhofner, 2008; Taylor, 2017). This study embraced the assumption that engagement in meaningful tasks could help develop skills, build confidence, establish habits, and increase occupational performance.
Methods. The capstone project implemented a qualitative descriptive design, using interviews. The respondents were occupational therapy practitioners practicing primarily with the older adult in the home health care and subacute settings in Northwest Georgia. Convenience sampling was utilized to obtain the sample. The study enrolled 8 occupational therapy practitioners from two practice settings.
Results. Once a priori coding was completed and categories were determined, three main themes emerge:
- Knowledge is power, but whose role is it really?
- Knowledge is power, but actually applying what you know is even more powerful.
- It’s inevitable; your environment will influence what you do.
Conclusions: Engagement in food-related activities and occupations has been highly valued for many older individuals, impacting healthy aging and quality of life in later years. This requires urgent attention from occupational therapy practitioners due to the growing population of older adults who experience food insecurity.
Shirley O’Brien, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA
Dana M. Howell, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA
2023 Mitzie Marion C. Mickelson
Mickelson, Mitzie Marion C., "Perceptions of Occupational Therapy Practitioners in Recognizing and Addressing Older Adult Food Insecurity" (2023). Occupational Therapy Doctorate Capstone Projects. 108.
IRB Approval Number (if applicable)