OSOT Research Grant Recipients

The Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists is proud to fund important occupational therapy research in Ontario through the resources of the OSOT Research Fund.


Note: Due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSOTRF was not granted in 2020 or 2021. In 2022, three Strategic Priorities Grants and two Occupational Therapy Research Grants were awarded.

OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000

Occupational Therapy Directed Service in Long-Term Care and Maintenance of Residents’ Self-Performance in Activities of Daily Living

Principal Investigator: Jocelyn Harris, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigator: Erin Harvey, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Summary: The purpose of this research is to evaluate if occupational therapy directed services compared to usual care will enable residents in long-term care homes (LTCHs) to maintain their self-performance in activities of daily living. The objectives of this research are to determine if occupational therapy directed interventions, provided by student occupational therapists for 30 minutes, five times a week for eight-week intervals, can maintain resident performance in activities of daily living (measured using the Modified Barthel Index, ADL Hierarchy Scale, and EuroQoL-5D Health Questionnaire).

OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000

Occupational Therapy Leadership in Return to Work for Public Safety Personnel with Psychological Trauma

Principal Investigator: Megan Edgelow, EdD, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Summary: Embedded in every community across the nation, public safety personnel (PSP), sometimes referred to as first responders, ensure the safety and security of all Canadians. Since the Ontario government introduced presumptive posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) legislation for PSP in 2016, WSIB Ontario has been working with public safety organizations to get psychologically injured workers back to work. There is little evidence to inform those efforts, as there has been little research into best practices in return to work (RTW) plans for PSP with PTSD. The purpose of this study is to advance the science for trauma-responsive occupational therapy RTW interventions for PSP. Specifically, researchers will identify and describe patterns in RTW services and outcomes for PSP with work-related psychological trauma who are receiving occupational therapy as part of their WSIB Ontario benefits. 

OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000

Ethical Tensions in Transitioning to Tiered Models of School-Based Occupational Therapy in Ontario

Principal Investigator: Sandra VanderKaay, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Wenonah Campbell, PhD, Leah Dix, OT Reg. (Ont.), Sandra Sahagian-Whalen, OT Reg. (Ont.), Stephanie Ellis, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Summary: School-based occupational therapy (SBOT) is shifting from pull-out interventions for students with special needs to tiered models focused on inclusion and participation. However, research has suggested that challenges exist in the transition to tiered models. It is unclear how occupational therapists are navigating the transition to tiered models, and in particular addressing ethical tensions. The objectives are to: (a) advance knowledge and understanding regarding ethical tensions experienced by school-based occupational therapists in transitioning to tiered models of SBOT, and (b) identify priority areas for resource development to support ethical decision-making.

OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant - $1,000

The Impact of an 8-Week Nature OT Group Intervention on Social-Emotional Skills in Children Ages 4-12 Years

Principal Investigator: Alanna Davis, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigator: Katie Newton, MScOT Candidate

Summary: While nature is beneficial for all children, there is a small body of research that shows positive outcomes for children with occupational performance issues. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of an 8-week nature-based OT intervention on the social-emotional change in children, ages 4-12 years of age using the Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS). This study will also examine the impact of a clinician’s level of experience, participant age, diagnosis, and experience with OT on the social emotional change we observe throughout the intervention.

OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant - $1,000

The Effectiveness of the Dynavision D2 to Improve Left Neglect in Adults with Brain Injury: A Randomized Control Trial

Principal Investigator: Teresa Broers, MSc, MSc OT, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Susanne Murphy, BScOT, MSc, OT Reg. (Ont.) and Chétan P. Phadké, BPhT, PhD

Summary: In Canada, traumatic and acquired brain injuries, including stroke, are a leading cause of adult neurological disability. Spatial neglect is one of the cognitive perceptual impairments that can occur. The Dynavision D2 Visuo-Motor device, originally developed for athletes, is a visual-motor reaction training system that has been used for visual, cognitive and physical rehabilitation. The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of using the Dynavision D2 to improve functional left inattention in adults with stroke or acquired brain injury, using a randomized control trial.


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000

Project Title: The Association Between Home Care Occupational Therapy Services and Health Utilization Outcomes among Individuals with Multimorbidity

Principal Investigator: Catherine Donnelly, PhD., OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Amanda Mofina, OT Reg. (Ont.), PhD Candidate, Jordan Miller, PhD., Joan Tranmer, PhD.

Individuals with multimorbid conditions access the health care system more frequently and are at an increased risk for poor health outcomes, increased hospital use, increased emergency department visits and subsequent hospital readmissions. Occupational therapists are uniquely positioned to help these medically complex individuals negotiate successful transitions in health care by providing supports to address their functional needs. What remains uncertain is the association between home care occupational therapy and health care utilization outcomes for individuals with multimorbid conditions. The overall goal of this study is to determine the association between home care occupational therapy and health care utilization outcomes for individuals with multimorbidity following a recent hospital discharge.

This retrospective cohort study will use linked data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences health administrative databases. Using propensity score matching, which controls baseline differences between comparison groups, we will determine the independent effect of occupational therapy on health care utilization outcomes. Implications: This research aims to provide population-level data to support the role of rehabilitation beyond single condition cases. If occupational therapy demonstrates a positive effect on health utilization outcomes, clinical pathways could be implemented wherein a referral to occupational therapy is automatically triggered if an individual has multimorbid conditions


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000

Project Title: Occupational Performance Coaching for stroke survivors (OPC-Stroke) integrated into community stroke rehabilitation

Principal Investigator:  Dorothy Kessler, PhD., OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators:  Catherine Donnelly, PhD.

Stroke is a leading cause of disability in Canada, affecting a person's ability to re-engage in important life activities.  Occupational Performance Coaching for stroke survivors (OPC-Stroke) is a promising approach that aims to promote participation in these activities through addressing stroke survivors' needs for emotional support, individualized education, and control through a collaborative process of goal setting and problem solving to attain self-identified goals.  This project's aim is to evaluate the processes and potential outcomes of integration OPA-Stroke into community stroke rehabilitation.

 Training in OPC-Stroke will be provided and evaluated. A knowledge translation framework will be used to integrate OPC-Stroke into community stroke rehabilitation. We will evaluate the integration processes as well as the potential intervention outcomes using qualitative and quantitative methods.

Expected Outcomes: 
This project will advance knowledge and inform practice in community stroke rehabilitation and other community-based occupational therapy services for seniors. Through this work, we will develop 1) a high quality  training program for OPC-Stroke, 2) a program logic model and implementation manual to guide the implementation of OPD-Stroke into community stroke rehabilitation , and 3) new knowledge to inform and support a multi-site trial to evaluate the effectiveness of integration OPC-Stroke into community stroke rehabilitation.

OSOTRF OT Research Grant - $1,000

Project Title: Understanding the experiences of persons with age-related vision loss (ARVL) in accessing and using community services and resources.

Principal Investigator: Julia Foster, B.MSc., M.Sc. (OT), OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Mark D. Bona, MD, FRCS(C), Doroth Kessler, PhD, OT. Reg. (Ont.), Colleen Erin McGrath, PhD, M.Sc. (OT), OT. Reg. (Ont.)

Vision loss impacts individuals' overall health and independence in the community. Individuals with vision loss list a number of strategies including receiving support from others. This may be formal supports provided by community services, or informed support provided by family, friends, and others. However, seniors with vision loss report that they are often unaware of the services available or where to find them. They would like their healthcare providers to be able to share information about relevant services. The purpose of this research is to learn about the type of formal and informal supports used by seniors with vision loss, what helps or limits seniors in using these supports, and what type and characteristics of supports seniors find valuable. We will interview seniors with vision loss about their experiences accessing services and subsequently a focus group to further explore the topic and ways to better support their needs (e.g. creation of a guide on community services). Researchers will work with seniors with vision loss to highlight common themes. As more occupational therapists start working with individuals with vision loss, resources developed from this research will assist them in supporting seniors in the community.



OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000  

Project Title: Generating a Tool to Guide the Practice of Occupational Therapists Supporting Homeless & Formerly Homeless Persons in the Mental health & Social Services Sector in Ontario

Principal Investigator: Carrie Anne Marshall, PhD., OT Reg. (Ont.)
: Rebecca Gewurtz, Laurence Roy, Bonnie Kirsh, Skye Barbic, Rosemary Lysaght

Homelessness remains a serious social issue in Canada, despite a variety of efforts to reduce its prevalence and its effects on those who experience it. Current model aimed at supporting this population, particularly Housing First, have proven successful at helping homeless persons secure and maintain housing, but have failed to effectively address occupational outcomes such as community integration, employment, and substance use patterns of this population. A more comprehensive vision is needed and an occupational perspective may provide some insight into strategies to improve the outcomes that have not been well addressed through existing approaches. The proposed study is composed of 2 phases. Phase I aims to build on existing literature by identifying the occupational and service needs of homeless and formerly homeless persons at three distinct stages: during, immediately following, and several month after the transition to being housed. The results of Phase I and existing literature will provide a basis for creating a practice tool in Phase II that can be used to guide the assessment and intervention of occupational therapists who support homeless persons over the trajectory of homelessness to being housed. This study is critical to the support of a growing number of occupational therapists working in this area. 

OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant - $1,000

Project Title: Assistive Technology Accomodations for Post-Secondary Students with mental Health Disabilities: A Scoping Review

Principal Investigator: Sarah Ko, M.Sc. OT Reg. (Ont.)
Linda S. Petty

There is a wealth of literature on the use of assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities. An emerging trend is that more studies are now examining the use and effectiveness of AT for people with mental health disabilities. A scoping review is proposed to map the literature regarding AT interventions to support young adults with mental health disabilities in post-secondary institutions such as universities and colleges. Key search terms will be identified in the fields of AT and mental health disabilities in the population of students in Western post-secondary institutions. Collaboration with a University of Toronto research librarian will be used to ensure an effective search strategy to review two to three databases for relevant literature. Covidence software will support the screening of all abstracts and final papers that meet the inclusion criteria. We anticipate that the results of this review will identify gaps for future research, demonstrate the value and feasibility of undertaking a full systematic review and encourage more occupational therapists to assume innovative and leadership roles as subject matter expert professionals in prescribing and recommending AT accommodations to young adults with mental health disabilities.


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $10,000  

Project Title: The Scope of Occupational Therapy Practice in Primary Care

Principal Investigator: Catherine Donnelly, PhD., OT Reg. (Ont.)
: Lori Letts, Carri Hand, Amanda Mofina, Nicole Bobbette, Ashley Williams

It has been six years since occupational therapists were funded within Ontario’s Family Health Teams. While early research has shown that occupational therapists working in primary care are generalists and address the broadest range of occupational performance issues, there is very little understanding of the scope of occupational therapy practice in this setting. The overall goal of the study is a) to gain information about the scope of clinical practice of occupational therapists working in primary care and, b) refine a process for doing so for scale-up to primary care practices across Ontario. Methods: This study is a cross sectional observational study of occupational therapy practice in primary care and will be conducted in three phases. Phase 1 will involve development of a client encounter form. Phase 2 will pilot test and collect client encounter data. Phase 3 will evaluate the process of implementation. The Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program methodology will be applied to occupational therapy within primary care. BEACH uses a client encounter form to collect information about each consecutive client encounter in primary care. Implications: It is essential to gather information on practice to ensure the expected outcomes are being achieved and that individuals who need occupational therapy within interprofessional care teams receive the quality care that they deserve. In an outcome driven model of care, this knowledge can aid in advocating for occupational therapy services.

OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant - $1,000

Project Title: Interprofessional education and interprofessional collaborative practice in post-licensure interprofessional settings: A scoping review

Principal Investigator: Laura Hartman, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Heidi Schwellnus, Gillian King, Darlene Hubley

Evidence supporting the benefits of interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) is mounting, leading to shifts in how pre- and post-licensure healthcare professionals are being trained to interact with one another and with clients. The call to incorporate IPCP is evident in the College of Occupational Therapy of Ontario’s own competencies guiding our practice. Proposed benefits include improved client engagement and outcomes, reduced risk of error and inefficient processes, and enhanced communication and satisfaction amongst practitioners. To date, a majority of the research and measured efforts to foster and bolster interprofessionality in healthcare have been concentrated on pre-licensure IPE,
while substantially less research is available that addresses training in interprofessional care for practicing professionals and functioning healthcare teams. A scoping review is proposed to summarize the current state of the literature regarding the effectiveness of current interventions and programs that enhance IPCP in post-licensure professionals. We anticipate that the results of this review will enable our team to identify areas of need and of promise for post-licensure interprofessional training, collaborative practice development, and ideas for implementation and evaluation. With this information, occupational therapists will be well situated to take on leadership roles in future IPCP training and research.


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $5,000

Project Title: Exploring Methods to Evaluate Occupational Therapy Interventions in Primary Care:  A Focus on  Falls Programming

Principal Investigator: Carrie Hand, PhD, OT Reg.(Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Catherine Donnelly, Cecilia Doesborgh, Martha Bauer, Nicole Bobbette, Maria Borczyk, Nanette Bowen-Smith, Dana Driesman-Klover, Gillian Fish, Colleen O’Neill

Falls among older adults can have devastating physical, psychological and social consequences. While multiple studies have explored falls interventions, very little research has been conducted in primary care, a setting in which falls programming is increasingly offered. In addition, little is known about the best outcome areas to measure and tools to use to capture the outcomes of falls programming. To fill these gaps, we intend to conduct a preliminary evaluation of occupational therapy falls programming at four Ontario Family Health Teams (FHTs). The objectives of the study are to 1) explore the relevance and usefulness of a falls efficacy scale and a participation scale in measuring the impact of occupational therapy falls programming and 2) gain information about changes in falls efficacy and participation that occur amongst clients who receive occupational therapy falls programming. Occupational therapists at the participating FHTs will administer a falls efficacy scale and a participation scale to all clients receiving falls programming over a 6-month period. Subsequently, focus groups will explore the relevance and usefulness of the tools. This research will provide essential information to support collection of outcomes data in primary care settings and future studies of effectiveness of primary care services.  


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Grant - $5000

Project Title: An occupation-based approach to management of youth with persistent post-concussion symptoms.

Principal Investigator: Anne Hunt, PhD, OT Reg.(Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Nick Reed, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), Deirdre Dawson, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), Michelle Keightley, PhD

Concussion is a common injury amongst children and youth that can affect one’s ability to engage in occupations of importance and meaning. Currently, there are not evidence-based guidelines for treatment and rehabilitation services that address occupational concerns for children and youth with persistent symptoms following concussion. The Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupational Performance (CO-OP) is a rehabilitation approach that was created to help children master occupational goals using a client-centred performance based, problem-solving approach. Evidence from child and adult populations, suggests that the CO-OP approach may be beneficial for addressing the occupational concerns in children with prolonged recovery following concussion. This pilot study will use a case-series design to test the hypothesis that the CO-OP approach is effective for use with youth with persistent post-concussion symptoms, to understand the participants’ experiences of this intervention, and to refine study protocol in preparation for more comprehensive investigation. This approach to concussion management embodies the core values and beliefs of the occupational therapy profession, by utilizing a client-centre approach to re-engage children with prolonged recovery in occupations that are meaningful to them while de-emphasizing impairment and disability.

OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant ($1,000)

Project Title: Updating the Compendium of Psychotherapy Resources for Ontario occupational therapists.

Principal Investigator: Carrie Anne Marshall, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.), PhD candidate
Co-Investigators: Colleen Good, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Lisa Detwiler, BScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.) , Sandra Moll, PhD., OT Reg. (Ont.)

The Compendium of Psychotherapy Resources for Ontario Occupational Therapists is a document created in 2013 through the support of an OSOT Strategic Priorities Grant. The compendium is a working document that provides an overview of the research literature focusing on 5 different psychotherapy approaches used by occupational therapists, and directs OTs to training opportunities for developing competency in each of these areas of psychotherapy. As this document is based on the research literature and availability of resources that are likely to change with time, it will require occasional revision to maintain currency. This proposal outlines a program that will allow for the completion of these updates. Additional improvements to the document are suggested as part of this proposal. These include the initiation of a peer review process to further establish the document’s credibility by ensuring sound fidelity to the literature base according to experts in each psychotherapy approach. Further, the inclusion of additional sections that expand the breadth of the compendium will expose occupational therapists to a wider array of psychotherapy approaches to help further build competency. This will enhance the ability of the compendium to promote the competency of Ontario OTs to develop psychotherapy skills in mental health practice.


OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Research Grant ($5,000)

Project Title: Development and implementation of an occupation-based falls prevention program in primary care

Principal Investigator: Catherine Donnelly, PhD., MSc., BSc.OT., OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Mary Lou Boudreau, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Isabelle Garand-Last, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Lori Letts, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), FCAOT, Bayley Mitchell, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Katherine Priestley, MScOT, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Falling is a common problem in older adults. In Ontario 66% of injury related ER visits and 85% of hospital admissions for adults over 65 are related to falls. This is strong evidence to show that home safety assessments conducted by an occupational therapist significantly decreases rate and risk of falls in adults living in the community. To date no literature has described or evaluated OT falls prevention programs in primary care. The purpose of this project is to describe the elements and implementation of an occupation-based fall prevention program in primary care.

Project title: Understanding Physician Perspectives of Cancer Survivors’ Work Return and Maintenance to Inform an OT Intervention

Principal Investigator: Tricia Morrison, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Paulette Guitard, PhD, Erg. Aut. (Ont.), Roanne Thomas, PhD.

With ever increasing cancer survivorship rates, attention is now turning to survivors’ quality of life (QoL). Work return and maintenance (WR&M), can be a significant QoL indicator for many survivors. Despite this, survivors frequently report receiving no related advice throughout their primary health care contact, most commonly limited to medical practitioners. To effectively highlight the current gap in services and indication for occupational therapy, a multi-stage research project is underway. The current application pertains to the second stage of this project which has as its objective to explore physicians’ perspectives and management of cancer survivors’ WR&M.


OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant ($1,000)

Project Title: Comparisons of Tests of Sensory Outcome after Nerve Injury in  Children

Principal Investigator: Emily S. Ho, BSc.OT, OT Reg.(Ont.), M.Ed.
Co-Investigators: Howard Clarke, MD, PhD, Gregory Borschel, MD

OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Research Grant ($5,000)

Project Title: Psychotherapy: Advancing the Competence of Ontario Occupational Therapists

Principal Investigator: Sandra Moll, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Joyce Tryssenaar, PhD, OT Reg. (Ont.), Colleen Good, OT Reg.(Ont.), Carrie Anne Marshall, OT Reg.(Ont.)

Project Title: Developing Capacity for Evaluating Medically at Risk Drivers

Principal Investigators: Brenda Vrkljan, Ph.D., OT Reg.(Ont.) and Briana Zur, Ph.D.,OT Reg. (Ont.)
Co-Investigators: Nellemarie Hyde, CDRS, OT Reg.(Ont.), Wendy Nieuwland, CDRS, OT Reg. (Ont.), Sheila Garrett, OT Reg. (Ont.)

Project Title: COPM in Primary Care

Principal Investigator: Catherine Donnelly, MSc, OT Reg. (Ont.), PhD Candidate
Co-Investigators: Lori Letts, PhD, OT Reg.(Ont.), Colleen O’Neill, B.Sc.OT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Martha Bauer, B.Sc.OT, OT Reg. (Ont.), Candace Crawford, MSc (OT), OT Reg. (Ont.)