Evaluation of an occupational therapy reentry program: Achieving goals to support employment and community living after incarceration

Work. 2023 Jan 10. doi: 10.3233/WOR-220035. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Individuals released from prisons to community supervision often experience unstable housing, unemployment, substance misuse, mental ill-health, and lack of support systems contributing to high rates of recidivism. Occupational therapy practitioners have distinct value in promoting engagement in new habits and routines to support “occupation,” or development of daily living skills to support community reentry.

OBJECTIVE: We developed an occupational therapy (OT) program within a Department of Corrections (DOC) Community Supervision Center in the Midwest United States. The purpose of this study was to determine feasibility and efficacy of an OT program for community reentry.

METHOD: The program was piloted with a sample of five justice-involved men received OT interventions. Pre- and posttest assessments included a behavioral health interview, demographic survey, five Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) assessments, the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) and Activity Card Sort-Advancing Inclusive Assessment. Descriptive analyses were performed to determine goal attainment and compare pre- and post-test scores over time and to a reference population (PROMIS). Staff of the DOC were also interviewed to assess perceived feasibility and efficacy of this pilot.

RESULTS: Significant health changes were reported in participant self-efficacy, managing emotions, anxiety, and sleep disturbances (1 > SD). Moderate changes were seen in reduced feelings of social isolation (0.5 > 1SD).

CONCLUSION: It was feasible to implement an OT program with tailored reentry interventions based on unique needs of criminal justice involved individuals. Initial findings suggest OT offers health promotion benefits to reduce risk of recidivism and prepare individuals for community reentry following incarceration.

PMID:36641720 | DOI:10.3233/WOR-220035

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