History and Development of the OSOT Research Fund

In 1982, the OSOT Board of Directors approved a recommendation to disband its Research Committee and establish a Research Foundation that provide a venue for raising funds to support OT research in Ontario and disseminate funds for research training, research proposal development, carrying out research projects and supporting research dissemination.

The OSOT Research Fund was established at the 1984 Fall Board Meeting of OSOT. Designated as a Fund within the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation (COTF), it would be overseen and directed by OSOT but administered by COTF.

Member donations and OSOT budget allocations to the OSOTRF produced a Fund balance of $9,790. in September 1987, enabling a launch of a Research Awards program.

The deadline for the first competition was February 28, 1988 and applications were invited for two grants – one to support clinical research and one to support securement of consultant fees to promote the development of a research proposal. Five proposals were received for the clinical research award and the first recipients were Ted Brown and Tina Pranger for a project titled “Predictors of Burnout for Psychiatric Occupational Therapy Personnel” (published in the Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, December 1992).

By 1992, the OSOTRF was in a healthy financial balance of $30,930. Three awards of $1,000 were established;

  • The OT Research Award – targeted to support entry level researcher's
  • The OSOTRF Presentation Award – to support dissemination of OT research
  • The OSOTRF Multi-Disciplinary Presentation Award – to support dissemination of OT research in an inter-professional forum

By the mid 2000’s, the OSOTRF Fund Balance had grown, but at the same time, applications for grants had dwindled. The Board of Directors requested a full review of the Research Grants Program and a review Committee was struck. The Committee recommendations included the redevelopment of the Research Awards to more strategically fit the needs of the profession and OT researchers. A number of factors were identified that affected relevance and utilization of the existing awards, including;

  • Entry level research skills of occupational therapists had changed dramatically as educational programs moved to the master's level. OTs entered the workforce with well-established basic research skills and knowledge.
  • Support for clinician engagement in research activity had waned in Ontario hospitals which limited the number of clinicians that might engage with the awards program.
  • The grant award of $1,000. was deemed to be valued but limited in the kind of research activity it could support.
  • There was an increasing interest amongst OT students to apply for the Presentation Awards to support dissemination of the knowledge gained through their research work.
  • The demand for a strong evidence base for OT practice had escalated. Health policy is increasingly directed by evidence.

The OSOT Research Fund review process resulted in recommendations to retire the existing awards and introduce two new grant options in 2012.

  • The OSOTRF Occupational Therapy Research Grant
  • The OSOTRF Strategic Priorities Research Grant

The OSOTRF Grants Program continues to focus on support of OT research in Ontario. The $1,000 OT Research Grant supports original research that will provide an evidence base for clinical or practice related issues and continues to focus on support of OT clinician researchers. The $10,000 Strategic Priorities Research Grant supports the clinical research that supports of the positioning and evolution of OT practice in Ontario and addresses policy and practice priorities identified by the OSOT Board of Directors.

To make a donation to the OSOTRF and help support occupational therapy research in Ontario visit the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation and indicate in the comment box that you'd like to make your donation to the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists Research Fund.