Occupational therapists’ experiences of enabling people to participate in sport

Deborah Bullen, Channine Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: In response to growing demands on health and social care there is an emphasis on communities addressing the needs of local populations to improve lives and reduce inequalities. Occupational therapists are responding to these demands by expanding their scope of practice into innovative settings, such working with refugees, the homeless, nursing homes and within sport and leisure environments. The benefits of sport are widely acknowledged and this paper argues occupational therapists could play a pivotal role in enabling people to participate.

Method: This qualitative study drew on a phenomenological approach and used interviews and thematic analysis to explore five occupational therapists’ experiences of enabling people to participate in sport.

Findings: Findings revealed that participants demonstrated the uniqueness of occupational therapy when enabling people to participate in sport and practiced according to their professional philosophy. There were opportunities to reach wider communities and promote the value of occupational therapy by collaborating with organisations but there were also challenges working outside of traditional settings.

Conclusion: The study emphasises the unique skills occupational therapists can bring to this setting. It highlights opportunities to expand their practice, to forge new partnerships in sports and leisure environments, and to address the national inactivity crisis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe British Journal of Occupational Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2020


  • sport
  • wellbeing
  • therapy

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