Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Grabanski


Neoplasms -- therapy; Patient Care Team; Referral and Consultation


Purpose: The purpose of this independent study was to explore the current role of occupational therapists working in oncology care and to understand the implications of the referral process for this specific population.

Methodology: A phenomenological research design, derived from Giorgi and Giorgi (2008), was used to implement this study. The researchers interviewed 6 occupational therapists, from a variety of settings, in the Midwest region using a semi-structured interview style. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and broken down into key constituents (Giorgi & Giorgi, 2008).

Results: The subsequent results from the 6 interviews were developed from 11 key constituents that related back to current occupational therapists’ experiences working with oncology patients. From the key constituents, the three elements that came forward were (1) Occupational therapists experiences within the process of working with oncology patients, (2) the impact of the referral system on the OT process, and (3) therapist’s reflections on how the Oncology Occupational Performance Screening Tool (OOPST) can shift occupational therapy’s overall experience within the healthcare system. These three elements of the general structure have important implications for the future of occupational therapy in oncology care.

Conclusions: In order to increase referrals for occupational therapy services in oncology care, occupational therapists have to advocate their skill set to the medical team, the patients, and other occupational therapists. Current occupational therapists are already implementing evidence-based practice that fit the need of patients in oncology care, and it’s time to apply this knowledge to a population who would benefit so deeply from occupational therapy’s unique skill set.