Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kieran Fogarty

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary D. Lagerwey

Third Advisor

Dr. Steven Eberth


Occupational therapy, primary care, team- based approach, multidisciplinary clinic, occupational therapy in primary care, collaboration


The purpose of this project was to study issues related to occupational therapists integrating into primary care settings, as part of a team-based approach and to best meet the needs of the clients.

This is a mixed methods study that examined quantitative and qualitative data for members of the primary care team and occupational therapists working in primary care clinics. The Team Climate Inventory-14 (Kivimaki & Elovainio, 1999) was selected as the quantitative measure because it examines themes related to team functioning, which include vision, participative safety, task orientation, and mutual support. Participants completed a semi-structured interview that examined themes related to the principles of a team-based approach.

There was no statistical association (p < .05) of characteristics related to the occupational therapists and aspects of team functioning. Both deductive and inductive themes were identified based on occupational therapists’ and primary care team members’ experiences as they relate to the five principles of a team-based approach (Mitchell et al., 2012) which include clear roles, effective communication, shared goals, mutual trust, and measurable process and outcomes.

The occupational therapist’s complex role, the potential to offset provider responsibility, and the provider as leader were themes identified by all participants in the study. Future research on OT in the primary care setting should include patient outcomes, team member satisfaction, and potential to offset provider responsibility. Limitations of the research include small sample size, author bias, and leading prompts being provided; strengths include mixed methodology, strategies used to improve trustworthiness, and innovative research on an emerging area of practice.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access