Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Sclinda Janssen

Second Advisor

Wanda Lauer


Title: A Sensory-Based Toolkit for Health Management of Patients with Aggressive Behaviors in Acute Care

Introduction: Patients who have aggressive behaviors in acute care have limited engagement in health management and social participation (Beattie, Griffiths, Innes, & Morphet, 2018; Harwood, 2017). There is current evidence stating aggression and difficult behaviors can be caused by a dysregulated sensory system, a specific condition or an internal/external stressor (Bowman & Jones, 2016; Harwood, 2017; Scheydt et al., 2017). The purpose of this scholarly project is to promote patient engagement in health management and social participation through the implementation of a sensory-based toolkit that has resources for an assessment and therapeutic interventions to decrease aggressive behaviors.

Methodology: A literature review was conducted through databases CINHAL, Pubmed, and Clinical Key. Search terms related to aggression, patients with aggression, aggression in the hospital, sensory-processing, and sensory-based interventions were used to gather scholarly research. The Ecology of Human Performance (EHP) was used in the development of this scholarly project because of its key characteristics: person, task, context; usability across many professions; and its focus on sensory processing and sensorimotor skills (Dunn, 2017). The andragogy learning theory was also utilized in the development of the in-service presentation by utilizing principles of andragogy such as need to know, experience, and readiness (El-Amin, 2020). Utilizing these models enhanced the scholarly level and usability of this scholarly project.

Results: A sensory-based toolkit was designed to assist occupational therapy (OT) practitioners and healthcare providers with an evaluation tool and therapeutic interventions when working with patients who have aggressive behaviors. The toolkit consists of three sections. The first section includes a non-standardized evaluation tool called Health Management Patient Assessment which is used to gain more knowledge on the person, their tasks and contexts (Dunn, 2017). The second section provides therapeutic sensory-based interventions that an OT or health care provider can utilize with their patient. The third section includes an in-service presentation that can be used to educate interprofessional teams on the importance of the sensory-based toolkit and how to implement sections one and two.

Conclusion: It is anticipated the sensory-based toolkit will assist OT practitioners and healthcare providers when working with patients who display aggressive behaviors. It is also anticipated after implementation of the sensory-based toolkit, a patient’s health management and social participation will increase due to their decreased aggressive behaviors.

Significance: The sensory-based toolkit will increase health management and social participation for patients with aggressive behaviors, thus increasing safety and wellbeing for the patients and healthcare staff.