What does the Australian public know about occupational therapy for older people? A population survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Occupational therapy can delay functional decline and improve quality of life of older people. Yet people may not seek occupational therapy services as they may not be aware of their scope or benefits. The aim of this study was to ascertain what the general public in Australia knows about occupational therapy services for older people. Methods: A cross-sectional cohort study completed via a consumer panel provider PureProfile (https://www.pureprofile.com/au/) a company specialising in online survey programming to registered participants of the general public (‘panel’). For a fee, a client can include a question in a weekly survey, and receive approximately 1000 responses (including detail about the respondents’ gender, age group and place of residence). We asked a free-text question about the participants’ understanding of occupational therapy and its role in supporting older adults. We used descriptive statistics to summarise sociodemographic data. Thematic approach to analysis was used to explore themes from the free text responses. Chi-squared test for independence was used to explore association and/or differences between age group, gender, place of residence and understanding about occupational therapy for older people. Included were people aged ≥18 years living in Australia. Results: We received 1004 responses; about half were female (50.9%) and one-fifth (20.1%) aged 65 or over. Of the 1004 respondents, approximately 10% could provide a good or advanced description of occupational therapy. Over half of the participants had some, but limited knowledge about the profession with references to general rehabilitation, physical therapies and return to work type interventions. Conclusion: Knowledge about the role of occupational therapy in supporting older people is limited. There is a need to address misconceptions that occupational therapy is only concerned with workplace or physical health-related matters to enable better service engagement in the consumer-driven care model in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-518
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • health promotion
  • occupational therapy
  • population survey


Dive into the research topics of 'What does the Australian public know about occupational therapy for older people? A population survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this