Application of the Human Activity Assistive Technology model for occupational therapy research

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Abstract

Background/aim

Theoretical models provide a framework for describing practice and integrating evidence into systematic research. There are few models that relate specifically to the provision of assistive technology in occupational therapy practice. The Human Activity Assistive Technology model is an enduring example that has continued to develop by integrating a social model of disability, concepts from occupational therapy theory and principles of assistive technology adoption and abandonment.

Methods

This study first describes the core concepts of the Human Activity Assistive Technology model and reviews its development over three successive published versions. A review of the research literature reflects application of the model to clinical practice, study design, outcome measure selection and interpretation of results, particularly among occupational therapists. An evaluative framework is used to critique the adequacy of the Human Activity Assistive Technology model for practice and research, exploring attributes of clarity, simplicity, generality, accessibility and importance. Finally, recommendations are proposed for continued development of the model and research applications.

Results

Most of the existing research literature employs the Human Activity Assistive Technology model for background and study design; there is emerging evidence to support the core concepts as predictive factors. Although the concepts are generally simple, clear and applicable to occupational therapy practice and research, evolving terminology and outcomes become more complex with the conflation of integrated theories.

Conclusions and significance

The development of the Human Activity Assistive Technology model offers enhanced access and application for occupational therapists, but poses challenges to clarity among concepts. Suggestions are made for further development and applications of the model.

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