AOTA’s Attendance at International Conference Highlights Goal of Global Connectedness
By Andrew Waite
Falling in line with AOTA's Centennial Vision goal of ensuring that members are globally connected, AOTA President Florence Clark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; AOTA Executive Director Fred Somers, and leading American occupational science researchers attended the Council of Occupational Therapists for the European Countries (COTEC) Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, from May 24 to 27, 2012.
The 9th annual conference's theme was "Occupation Diversity for the Future" and included workshops, lectures, and poster sessions by leading innovators from 47 countries who discussed ideas such as occupational therapy contributing to community and the need to better engage OT consumers.
But the conference also presented AOTA leadership with a chance to solidify relationships abroad.
"It allowed us to foster global connectedness," Somers said. "As the profession progresses, American practitioners need to be up to date with the latest developments in research, innovative practice methods, and policy affecting the way service is delivered across the world."
In addition to networking with occupational therapy leaders from various nations, Clark had the opportunity to present her own research on the Well Elderly II Study, which verified results from the initial study proving occupational therapy services to be cost efficient and effective for slowing down declines and improving health in older people.
Clark said she was excited to learn that nations across Europe had already implemented interventions similar to the Well Elderly Lifestyle Redesign as part of various kinds of care, demonstrating not only how well positioned American research is on the global stage, but also how international dissemination can lead to interesting applications with many diverse populations.
"There is a lot of evidence-based research that is going on all over the world, and I think that we need to be able to collate that and use it in our advocacy. So it's very important for us to know about what research is being produced on an international basis. We will have more heft by pooling all the research that's been done throughout the world," Clark said. "When you are in a new area of practice or research, a lot of times you have to go beyond your own country to find people who are working on similar problems and possess knowledge that you may not have."
In keeping with that idea, AOTA is working on a partnership with the Canadian, Australian, and British Occupational Therapy Associations to share access to each nation's research journal. The online platform enabling the sharing is expected to go live in August.
Clark said even American practitioners whose main focus is not on research should understand that AOTA connecting to the global scientific scene is a necessity.
"We need evidence," Clark said. "We need evidence in order to be responsive to the way in which therapy is being reimbursed. So it all trickles down. By learning about research in other countries and different approaches, we also get to see how different systems of health care operate. And by being exposed to presentations in which practice is being reimbursed in very different ways we can get ideas for how our own policy might be better shaped to be more inclusive of all that occupational therapy brings to the table."
Click here for more on the COTEC.
Andrew Waite can be reached at email@example.com.
Photo, from left to right:
Julia Scott, British Association and College of Occupational Therapists (BAOT/COT) Chief Executive; Fred Somers, AOTA Executive Director; Claudia van Zweck, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) Executive Director; Florence Clark, AOTA President; Sue Baptiste, CAOT President; Naomi Hankinson, BAOT/COT Chairman of Council