Credentials Display

Ashley Ellsworth, OTD, OTR/L, CHES; Susan MacDermott, OTD, OTR/L; Bridget Scheidler, EdD, OTR/L, CAPS


Background: As mass shootings continue to persist in the United States, their occupational impact on victims needs further understanding. The purpose of this study was to examine stories shared by survivors of mass shootings to determine whether changes in occupational participation, performance, and fulfillment of meaningful roles and performance patterns occurred following the incident.

Method: Unobtrusive methods were used to collect and analyze publicly accessible audiovisual and written records following a qualitative research design. Themes were developed through thematic analysis.

Results: Victims at varying degrees of association to the event experienced changes in their occupational performance, participation, and fulfillment of performance patterns. Eight themes encapsulated the common areas of concern expressed by individuals: (a) loss of occupations or independence, (b) reclaiming and “relearning” lost occupations, (c) adopting new occupations, (d) occupational participation as a coping mechanism, (e) contexts and environments facilitate or inhibit occupational participation, (f) change in relationship dynamics, (g) emergence of new performance patterns, and (h) shift in life narratives.

Conclusion: Occupational therapists require knowledge of the occupational impacts of mass shootings on their victims to ensure their receipt of appropriate care. Future research on occupational therapists’ roles in working with this population is needed.