Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Executive Summary

Background: A review of the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (AOTA, 2020) and scholarly literature within healthcare fields, including occupational therapy, discuss the contextual issues of occupational justice and health disparities in situations when sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are not considered as part of the occupational therapy process.

Purpose: This study explored if occupational therapists (OTs) considered a client’s SOGI when providing services to an adolescent. Subsequent research questions were: do OTs perceive that SOGI influences adolescents’ occupations, and do OTs perceive gaps in their knowledge related to SOGI?

Theoretical Framework: This research project was based on the framework of Occupational Justice and the premise that if all aspects of a person’s identity are not considered as part of the OT process, then their ability to fully engage in their daily occupations is negatively influenced.

Methods. An exploratory qualitative descriptive study was used and semi-structured interviews were conducted with the four participants. Transcripts were analyzed using invivo and open coding, then the data was analyzed and placed into categories, then final themes.

Results: Three themes were identified from the data: Open and empathetic, but uneducated about SOGI; SOGi does not influence practice; and OT could have a role with SOGI.

Conclusions: Due to their lack of knowledge, and preparedness, OTs may not consistently consider SOGI with adolescents. As a result, the OT will likely assume that an adolescent is heterosexual or male/female; would not know if they needed additional support to engage fully in their occupations; and the OT would not provide services that are individualized and client-centered. These situations directly contribute to the occupational injustice and health disparities experienced by those who identify within a SOGI minority population.

Faculty Mentor

Dana M. Howell, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Christine Privott, PhD, OTR/L, Associate Professor

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Camille Skubik-Peplaski PhD OTR/L FAOTA

Department Affiliation

Occupational Therapy


I am grateful to the participants in this study who shared their thoughts and were willing to be vulnerable and discuss sexual orientation and gender identity as it related to their practice and the profession of occupational therapy. Thank you to my family and friends for their unwavering support as I pursued my OTD; and to Beck for letting me “share the work.”

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)