Understanding professional identity in occupational therapy: A scoping review

Scand J Occup Ther. 2021 Oct 7:1-23. doi: 10.1080/11038128.2021.1974548. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: A strong professional identity helps occupational therapists maintain professional values and thrive when facing work-related challenges and opportunities including generic, blurred or emerging roles, funding pressures and a push for outcome evidence. A scoping review will build understanding of professional identity and how to maintain it in such circumstances.

OBJECTIVES: To scope what is currently understood of professional identity in occupational therapy and factors which influence ability to maintain this and adapt in challenging work environments.

METHODS: Using Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review framework three databases were searched using the terms ‘occupational therap*’ and ‘professional identity’. Data extraction and thematic analysis highlighted the extent and nature of current literature and mapped key concepts.

RESULTS: 89 papers were included. Professional identity was revealed as a multidimensional construction. Four themes emerged: developing a shared ontology, embracing the culture, enacting occupational therapy, and believing in occupational therapy. Factors which influenced development and maintenance of professional identity included occupation-centred practice, ontological reflexivity, linking theory to practice and professional socialization.

CONCLUSIONS AND SIGNIFICANCE: The enhanced understanding of professional identity and factors which preserve or enhance it can help the profession identify how to position itself to remain resilient and adaptive in an ever-changing environment.

PMID:34617493 | DOI:10.1080/11038128.2021.1974548

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