Finding Evidence for Your Practice

Evidence-based practice (EBP) and evidence-informed practice (EIP) is critical to the sustainability and future development of all health professions. Defined as the integration of the best research, sound clinical expertise and the values of clients in the provision of an optimal healthcare outcome, OSOT members strive to deliver evidence informed practice.  

A Joint Position Statement on Evidence Based Occupational Therapy (Canada) has been authored by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy University Programs (ACOTUP), the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO), and the Alliance of Canadian Occupational Therapy Professional Associations (ACOTPA).  

Sources of Evidence

Although literature reviews (especially of randomized control studies) and critical appraisals of research articles are the cornerstones of evidence-based practice, there are a number of strategies that can assist in informing your practice, including:

  • Conducting literature searches through a variety of databases that include both the OT literature and broader health and health car related literature.  Published research is found in numerous data bases such as MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, OTD Base and PsycINFO.  Consider the following ways to access articles:

    • HealthForceOntario's  Electronic Health Library provides a complimentary, comprehensive literature searchtool for occupational therapists registered to practice in Ontario.  Specifically, it provides registered occupational therapists with complimentary access to, and full text articles (released by the publisher) from the vast databases of:

    • Need support for conducting searches or using the databases?  Periodic EHL webinars are hosted and promoted on the www.ahpdf.ca website or access the archived tutorial webinars and resources here .

      Learn more about the  Electronic Health Library.

    • OTDBase - Online indexing and search service that contains over 10,000 abstracts from more than 20 global OT journals since 1970.

    • OT Seeker is a database that contains abstracts of systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials relevant to occupational therapy. Trials have been critically appraised and rated to assist you to evaluate their validity and interpretability. These ratings will help you to judge the quality and usefulness of trials for informing clinical interventions. In one database, OTseeker provides you with fast and easy access to trials from a wide range of sources.  The OT Seeker Links page  also provides a number of other resources that are valuable to specific areas of practice.

    • The Cochrane Collaboration is an international non-profit and independent organization, dedicated to making up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare readily available worldwide. It produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions.  The Cochrane Library  is a collection of six databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making, and a seventh database that provides information about groups in The Cochrane Collaboration.  Of particular interest to clinicians is the Database of Systematic Reviews. Individuals can subscribe to receive email updates, join a Cochrane Journal Club, etc. 
  • EBSCO Health Library  provides access to open source journal articles. EBSCO also offers free trials to access CINAHL, Dynamic Health, and other databases.

  • Google Search use key words or phrases, or ask a question and search what interests you.

  • The McMaster University Occupational Therapy Evidence-Based Practice Research Group provides links to evidence based learning resources, steps for the evidence-based practice process and contact information for research themes within the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  This group aims to focus on research that critically reviews evidence regarding the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions and have developed tools to use in the evaluation of occupational therapy programmes and guidelines for critical appraisal. This site gives online access to the group's critical appraisal forms and guidelines (quantitative and qualitative) as well as to 2 systematic reviews. 

  • The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal with a mission to publish high quality articles that focus on applied research, practice, and education in the occupational therapy profession. Specifically, the categories of articles published in OJOT include Applied Research, Guidelines for Practice and Technological Guidelines, Opinions in the Profession, Topics in Education, and Letters to the Editor. 

  • Occupational Therapy International is a peer-reviewed journal, publishing manuscripts that reflect the practice of occupational therapy throughout the world. Priority for publication will be given to research articles that provide recommendations for evidence-based practice and demonstrate the effectiveness of a specific treatment method.

  • Institute for Work and Health Resource - What Researchers Mean by.... is a good resource to help readers of research literature better understand what researchers do, how their studies can be structured and the language they use when reporting their findings.  Find it hard to follow the terminology in articles?  IWH's scientists have provided a dictionary of dozens of research terms you'll come across. IWH  has many other resources as well.

  • American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)  offers access to a list to help researchers when they submit their manuscripts for publication.  Lists many journals.

  • Loyalist Library  provides access to occupational therapy and physiotherapy open source educational resources including textbooks, journals, apps, and other resources.

  • Springer Nature provides access to open source journals and allows you to submit manuscripts for peer review. They also offer a license which provides further access to resources.

  • OT Potential  is an evidence forum starting at $5/month and a discount for annual membership to access OT research, assessments, documentation examples, and other resources. 

  • The Occupational Therapy Hub  provides free access to articles, resources, journal club, updates and events. You can joint their Plus membership to also gain access to webinars, videos, downloads and access to a research portal.

  • Biomedcentral (BMC)  has an evolving portfolio of high quality peer-reviewed journals including broad interest titles such as BMC Biology and BMC Medicine, specialist journals such as Malaria Journal and Microbiome, and a variety of biological and medical journals. 

  • Journal clubs - consider establishing a commitment amongst peers to share coffee or lunch while discussing a current article of relevance to your practice.  Why not use OSOT's resource for Establishing an OT Journal Club!

  • Networking with colleagues to discuss emerging evidence, new publications, etc. can be a valuable way to both find and consider application of new evidence.  See OSOT's Networking resource pages.

  •  Assessment tools and outcome measures provide useful evidence.

  • Checking the “gray” literature through internet searches.  Google can be your support but get to know Google Scholar too.

  • Problem-solving with your colleagues. Client-centered care is evidence in itself as the evidence demonstrates that clients involved in decision-making have better health outcomes.