Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Debra Hanson


Aged; Automobile Driving -- psychology; Quality of Life -- psychology


Purpose: Driving is both a highly valued occupation within the United States and an occupation that is frequently addressed by occupational therapists. According to the CDC (2017) there are more than 40 million older drivers ages 65 years or older within the United States. There is extensive research pertaining to the value of the occupation of driving as well as evaluation and treatment approaches for the occupation of driving following an injury or illness. While driving is sometimes the best option after an injury or illness, there are situations when returning to driving is not realistic or safe for the individual or others on the road. However, there is less research about the role that occupational therapists play for older adults during the transition period following a driving cessation.

Methodology: A phenomenological qualitative research design was used to gather information about individuals’ experiences related to driving disruption or cessation for older adults. Purposive sampling was utilized to locate and select subjects who met the inclusion criteria from a local retirement community/assisted living facility within the western United States. Two graduate level occupational therapy students who were trained in qualitative research used semistructured interviews with open-ended questions. The graduate students and their graduate advisor using the Moustakas (1994) approach manually analyzed data from interviews. The occupation-based model, MOHO, was utilized to create an occupation-based understanding throughout the research study.

Results: As a result of data analysis, five themes were identified. The themes are as follows 1) driving is an important factor that influences life roles, 2) making sense of driving cessation, 3) strong emotional responses are associated with driving and driving disruption, 4) the importance of context in meeting needs following driving disruption, and 5) familial influences on driving disruption and transportation needs.

Conclusion: The purpose of this study is to learn about individual’s experiences and perceptions related to driving disruption or driving cessation for adults aged 55 or older. Based on the results of this study and the existing research, it is clear that occupational therapists have the skills to assist individuals following a driving cessation. Occupational therapy practitioners can utilize the firsthand information gained through this study as they prepare individuals and help them adjust to a cessation or disruption in driving.