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Occupational Therapy Dissertation Topics

We have provided the selection of example occupational therapy dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.

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Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 1:

A study of the voluntary and working experiences undertaken by undergraduates of occupational therapy prior to their enrolment.

A reflective piece of work, this study will involve working with peers as well as those in the first and second year of the occupational therapy course at the university. In analysing the amount of relevant work experience and volunteering undertaken by those presently studying occupational therapy, this dissertation will be able to identify a number of indicators relating to: amount of time, nature of experiences undertaken, expectations of those placements, how prior practice relates to the theory undertaken through study. Accordingly, this is a piece of work that would be ideally suited to someone studying occupational therapy who wishes to pursue an academic career in the field that will involve recruiting and interviewing prospective students of the future.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Christie, B. A., Joyce, P. C. and Moeller, P. L. (1985). Fieldwork experience, Part I: Impact on practice preference. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 39(10), pp. 671-674.
  • Tryssenaar, J. (1999). The lived experience of becoming an occupational therapist. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62(3), pp. 107-112.
  • Wittman, P. P., Swinehart, S., Cahill, R. and Michel, G. S. (1989). Variables affecting specialty choice in occupational therapy. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 43(9), pp. 602-606.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 2:

A qualitative study into the psychological effects that accompany limb replacement, with specific reference to how it may affect returning to work.

Though there have been significant medical (and aesthetic) improvements in the fields of reconstructive surgery and prostheses in recent decades, along with a plethora of research undertaken on the psychological effects that accompany such surgery, less study has been focused on the psychological impact that such surgery may have on the desire and ability of persons so affected to return to work. Returning to a familiar work environment is the topic of this dissertation hypothesis, a process made even more daunting when there is knowledge that colleagues will be aware that the person returning has been fitted with artificial limbs. Focusing on those who return to clerical work with prosthetic legs, this is a dissertation that qualitatively investigates not only the psychological trauma felt by the amputee but also interviews professionals within HR in the hope of being able to provide 'best practice' guidance for individuals and institutions who face such scenarios in the future.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Burger, H., & Marincek, C. (2007). Return to work after lower limb amputation. Disability & Rehabilitation, 29(17), pp. 1323-1329.
  • MacKenzie, E.J., Bosse, M.J., Kellam, J.F., Pollak, A.N., Webb, L.X., Swiontkowski, M.F., Smith, D.G., Sanders, R.W, Jones, A.L., Starr, A.J., McAndrew, M.P., Petterson, B.M., Burgess, A.R., Travison, T. and Castillo, R.C. (2006). 'Early predictors of long-term work disability after major limb trauma'. The Journal of Trauma vol. 61(33), pp. 688-694.
  • Schoppen, T., Boonstra, A., Groothoff, J. W., van Sonderen, E., Goeken, L. N. and Eisma, W. H. (2001). Factors related to successful job reintegration of people with a lower limb amputation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 82(10), pp. 1425-1431.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 3:

A qualitative investigation into the barriers faced by the deaf and mute in finding meaningful employment within the retail sector.

This dissertation topic is inspired by the experience of interacting with a deaf and mute member of staff working in the customer service (returns department) a leading High Street department store and food specialist. Focusing upon both the institutional and personal barriers that deaf and mute people face in securing employment within the retail sector - and the positive and negative experiences that those who do secure such work have enjoyed/endured - this is a dissertation that not only addresses a sensitive area within occupational therapy but will also ensure a thorough knowledge of data protection issues as well as ethical research guidelines. As opportunities for the deaf and mute continue to grow this is a dissertation that should be readily publishable as a consequence of the proposals relating to further integration into the workplace that it should advance.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Wheeler-Scruggs, K. (2002). Assessing the employment and independence of people who are deaf and low functioning. American Annals of the Deaf, 147(4), pp. 11-17.
  • Winn, S. L. (2007). Employment outcomes for the congenitally deaf in Australia: Has anything changed? American Annals of the Deaf, 152(4), pp. 382-390.
  • Zhang, T. Y. (2007). Deaf-mutes, illiterates, and women. Feminist Media Studies, 7(4), pp. 381-396.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 4:

An investigating the dominant factors that influence mature male students to decide upon a career in occupational therapy.

Aware of the historic gender bias towards females within occupational therapy - an observations reinforced by the present gender divide notable upon the Occupational Therapy course at Sheffield Hallam University - this dissertation seeks to interview those male students who have enrolled (and/or graduated) from the course over the last five years. For the purposes of this study, 'mature' relates to those who will be 25 or older at the time of graduation. Though this is envisaged as primarily a qualitative study, in which the individual reasons for choosing such a course and career will be recorded from interviews, it would also be possible to undertake this study using quantitative research techniques. Offering an insight into the mind-set of the minority of men who forge a career in occupational therapy this would be an ideal dissertation at either undergraduate or master's levels.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Boyd, S. and Hewlett, N. (2001). The gender imbalance among speech and language therapists and students. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 36(S1), pp. 167-172.
  • Hocking, C. (2009). The challenge of occupation: Describing the things people do. Journal of Occupational Science, 16(3), pp. 140-150.
  • Lockwood, P. (2006). "Someone like me can be successful": Do college students need same-gender role models?. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30(1), pp. 36-46.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 5:

Healthy living and lifestyle promotion amongst teenage girls: An evaluation of the extent to which there is a link between deprivation levels and participation.

A comparative studying focusing upon the Borough of Tower Hamlets in London and Godalming, Surrey, this is a dissertation that not only looks at the work of occupational therapists engaged in promoting lifestyles amongst school children but also seeks to evaluate the extent to which underlying socio-economic factors contribute to the success of such schemes. Though barely 30 miles separate them, the two areas chosen for comparison are notably different socially, economically and culturally and this difference accordingly provides the researcher with a number of opportunities to really explore the theories that underpin intervention strategies. This is a dissertation that should, in addition to using secondary literature, involve substantial primary fieldwork with schools in the two areas as well as community and youth leaders.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cole, F. (2008). Mental health and physical activity: Enabling participation. Occupational Therapy and Mental Health, 4, pp. 277-298.
  • Frank, G., Fishman, M., Crowley, C., Blair, B., Murphy, S.T., Montoya, J.A., Hickey, M.P., Brancaccio, M.V. and Bensimon, E.M. (2001). The new stories/new cultures after-school enrichment program: A direct cultural intervention. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 55(5), pp. 501-508.
  • Hardaker, L., Halcomb, E. J., Griffiths, R., Bolzan, N. and Arblaster, K. (2007). The role of the occupational therapist in adolescent mental health: A critical review of the literature. Advances in Mental Health, 6(3), pp. 194-203.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 6:

A generational investigation into perceptions of physical activity leisure time amongst Bangladeshi families in Luton.

Focusing upon the sizeable ethnic minority population of Bengalis within Luton, this is a qualitative study that will involve close work with five families across three generations. Recording and evaluating not only pre-existing attitudes to the undertaking of physical activity within leisure time but also measuring how these change during the course of the study (an envisaged six month period), this is a dissertation that will primarily involve primary data. It is envisaged that the researcher will provide the interviewees with education as to the benefits of including physical activity into their existing leisure time patterns as the study progresses and also encourage members of the family to talk openly with each other as to their views. This is, accordingly, a dissertation that has the potential to proffer a range of conclusions and recommendations that will have on-going relevance to both the community in question and the wider profession.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Chiang, M. and Carlson, G. (2003). Occupational therapy in multicultural contexts: issues and strategies. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(12), pp. 559-567.
  • Cole, F. (2008). Mental health and physical activity: Enabling participation. Occupational Therapy and Mental Health, 4, pp. 277-298.
  • Suto, M. J. (2012). Leisure participation and well-being of immigrant women in Canada. Journal of Occupational Science, (ahead-of-print), pp. 1-14.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 7:

A review of the use of cats as a therapeutic tool within occupational therapy with especial reference to those who have suffered from heart attacks and/or strokes.

Building upon existing secondary literature within the field; this dissertation focuses especially upon those who have suffered from heart attacks and strokes. Using qualitative primary analysis - through the conducting of face to face with those 'in recovery' this dissertation evaluates the personal responses of those who have been prescribed therapeutic pet therapy as an aid to recovery. This is a dissertation that will require empathy, patience and tolerance whilst collating the data and could, if so required, be further focused onto either a specific geographic location or individual profession.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Berget, B. and Braastad, B. O. (2008). Theoretical framework for animal assisted interventions-implications for practice. International Journal of Therapy Communities, 29, pp. 323-337.
  • Giaquinto, S. and Valentini, F. (2009). Is there a scientific basis for pet therapy? Disability & Rehabilitation, 31(7), pp. 595-598.
  • Wells, D. L. (2009). The effects of animals on human health and well-being. Journal of Social Issues, 65(3), pp. 523-543.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 8:

A phenomenological and qualitative study into the benefits of participating in either community choirs or brass bands amongst pensioners with the onset of dementia.

Focusing upon Norham (the northern most town to possess a brass band in England) and the community choirs and music groups of Coldstream (the southernmost town of Scotland), this is a dissertation that combines occupational therapy theory with practice in two neighbouring community settings. Using real life experiences and first hand interviews this is a dissertation that will need to ensure that issues relating to confidentiality are adhered to, and would also benefit from further interviews with health professionals in the area. This is a dissertation that could be completed over either a short or longer-term time-frame of observation depending upon the study limitations faced by the individual researcher.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hartwig, R. (2010). Music therapy in the context of palliative care in Tanzania. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 16(10), pp. 499-504.
  • Remington, R., Abdallah, L., Melillo, K. D. and Flanagan, J. (2006). Managing problem behaviors associated with dementia. Rehabilitation Nursing, 31(5), pp. 186-192.
  • Ridder, H.M.O. (2003). Singing dialogue: Music therapy with persons in advanced stages of dementia: A case study research design. Doctoral dissertation, Institute of Music Therapy, Aalborg University, Denmark.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 9:

An investigation into perceptions of the effects of irritable bowel syndrome amongst judges and their ability to achieve occupational balance and engagement- with specific reference to those sitting upon the Midland circuit.

Noting not only the stressful environment in which judges upon the Midland circuit work but also the often debilitating effects of irritable bowel syndrome, this is a dissertation that seeks to offer practical institutional remedies for accommodating the needs of judges with the condition based around Birmingham. In focusing upon this profession, this dissertation synthesis existing secondary literature upon the mechanisms that can be put into place within the work environment to ensure that professionals with the condition can maximise their work output with the unique working environment and expectations of legal professions. Accordingly, it uses primary research to add to the limited body of knowledge presently available on this aspect of occupational therapy and makes a valuable contribution to stress management in a profession in which focus is essential.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Jolly-Ryan, J. (2009). Promoting mental health in law schools: What law schools can do for law students to help them become happy, mentally healthy lawyers. University of Louisville Law Review, 48, pp. 95-103.
  • Wilhelm, K., Kovess, V., Rios-Seidel, C. and Finch, A. (2004). Work and mental health. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 39(11), pp. 866-873.
  • Zimmerman, I. M. (2006). Helping judges in distress. Judicature, 90, pp. 10-15.

Example occupational therapy dissertation topic 10:

An investigation into the effects that involvement with a programme of debate can have upon recovering alcoholics and drug users seeking new professional opportunities.

Building upon recent media exposure of the success of schemes undertaken by the Cyrenians within the north-east of England in conjunction with the University of Durham (and as featured by Radio Four), this occupational therapy dissertation combines primary and secondary research to evaluate the positive effects that active engagement in programmes that encourage logical thought and clear verbal presentation has upon the ability of those recovering from dependency addictions to secure meaningful employment. This is a dissertation that will require observation of, and interaction with, not only care professionals but also those who teach upon such courses, as well as the clients who participate in such programmes. Ideally, this is a study that should be conducted over no less than six months so as to enable before, during, and after interviews to be conducted and evaluated.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bartholomew, N. G., Hiller, M. L., Knight, K., Nucatola, D. C. and Simpson, D. D. (2000). Effectiveness of communication and relationship skills training for men in substance abuse treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 18(3), pp. 217-225.
  • Mann, M. M., Hosman, C. M., Schaalma, H. P. and De Vries, N. K. (2004). Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health Education Research, 19(4), pp. 357-372.
  • Stoffel, V. C. and Moyers, P. A. (2004). An evidence-based and occupational perspective of interventions for persons with substance-use disorders. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58(5), pp. 570-586.

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