Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Purpose Although evidence supports that highly engaged colleagues result in better patient outcomes (Lowe, 2012; Studer, Hagins, & Cochrane, 2014), little is known about the impact of engaged occupational (OT), physical (PT), and speech (ST) therapists on patient outcomes (Mueller, Prins, & deHeer, 2018; Paulsen et al., 2014). This prospective cohort study examines the effect of a voluntary OT, PT and ST workgroup has on therapist engagement and outpatient-perceived quality services. The following research questions about the impact of process consultation within a volunteer therapist workgroup were asked: a) will engagement of all therapists improve as measured by the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)? b) will process consultation impact engagement of OT, PT, and ST equally? and c) will patient’s perception of care by OT, PT, and ST improve?

Design / Intervention Thirty-three therapists were given the opportunity to participate in a workgroup to improve communication with a nursing unit; three therapists volunteered. Thirteen therapists completed baseline UWES surveys and 17 completed post-workgroup UWES surveys. Five workgroup sessions were conducted between February 1 and March 31, 2019 led by the primary investigator, applying principles of process consultation.

Outcome measures Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) was given to all therapists before and after intervention to measure therapist engagement. Essential Services Survey (ESS)—facility specific tool, and the Press Ganey Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility Experience of Care Survey (IRF EOC) were used to measure client outcomes. Results UWES score increased from 5.07 to 5.17. PT UWES score increased from 4.69 to 4.85, OT UWES score increased from 5.33 to 5.35 and ST UWES score increased from 5.1 to 5.26. ESS mean scores increased from 8.3 to 9.8. IRF EOC results included only 3 patient responses per month; therefore, it was not used.

Conclusion: Using process consultation to empower therapists to prioritize work initiatives and collaboratively solve identified problems appears to improve therapist engagement. The positive impact of process consultation upon therapists’ engagement offers many practical takeaways to those who manage OTs, PTs and STs. Offering therapists, the opportunity to prioritize work initiatives and interact with hospital peers to drive change appears to be an important means of improving engagement. Similar to Lowe’s study (2012) the therapists within this study had the opportunity to make improvements in the work environment, were provided clear objectives and goals for the workgroup, acted as a team, and received supervisor support. This study supports therapy managers use of workgroups to collaboratively identify and solve problems with their employees to improve patient perception of care, increase safety, lower employee turnover, and reduce absenteeism (Studer et al, 2014).

Impact Employee driven workgroups using process consultation is a tool that OT managers can use to improve performance outcomes, which is particularly needed as healthcare moves toward federal value-based purchasing programs (Owens et al., 2017). These workgroups create an organizational culture that supports high-quality performance increasing engagement among therapists (Owens, Eggers, Keller, & McDonald, 2017). Lastly, engaged therapists may also lead to reduced turnover, fewer patient falls, and improved hand hygiene compliance (Studer, Hagins, & Cochrane, 2014).

Faculty Mentor

Anne Fleischer

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Casey Humphrey

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)