Credentials Display

Brenda S. Howard, DHSc, OTR, FAOTA; Michele Govern, OTD, OTR; Alexandra Gambrel, OTD, OTR; Morgan Haney, OTD, OTR; Haylee Ottinger, OTD, OTR; Travis Rippe, OTD, OTR; Alyssa Earls, OTD


Background: Health care professionals face ethical problems in practice, but there is little research on types of ethical problems encountered or ethical problem resolution. This study explored ethical problems encountered by occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) within the first 5 years of practice.

Method: Investigators sent a survey in cooperation with NBCOT to a sample of 7,800 occupational therapists and OTAs in multiple practice settings who were NBCOT certified within the past five years. The survey covered questions regarding ethical problems encountered in practice, including productivity and related issues, clinical decision-making and professional reasoning, therapeutic relationships, and employer/employee and colleague relationships.

Results: Occupational therapists and OTAs (n = 125) completed the survey. The most consistently encountered types of ethical problems included productivity and related issues and conflicts over clinical decision-making. Occupational therapists and OTAs working in adult and older adult settings reported more consistent encounters with ethical problems than practitioners in other settings. Occupational therapists and OTAs who have been NBCOT certified for longer experienced ethical problems more consistently.

Conclusion: Implications included providing more support in specific ethics topics for practitioners within the first 5 years. Further research in which types of ethics education best prepare practitioners to manage ethical issues is warranted.


The authors received no funding for this study. The authors declare that they have no competing financial, professional, or personal interest that might have influenced the performance or presentation of the work described in this manuscript.