Occupational therapy (OT) is a client-centered approach resolute to assist individuals in attaining their highest occupational performance (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2014c). Driving and aging is an emerging topic of interest for occupational therapists (OTs) (AOTA, 2007). According to the Administration on Aging (AOA) (2013), by the year 2030 the number of 65 year olds and older in the United States will be 72.1 million, which is a 32.5 million increase compared to 2009’s census. With such a substantial growth among this population, the amount of geriatric drivers that will be on the road in 2030 will also increase substantially. Occupational therapists presently play a vital role in this area of practice as evidenced by the current partnership with AARP and CarFit. OT’s role includes driver rehabilitation addressing all age groups that hold a driver’s license, dementia being one of the largest populations. Conversely, OT’s role in assessing driving for clients with dementia is not clearly defined in evidence based practice (EBP).
A systematic review of the literature by Furman, Kim, Paolino, Patel, & Torres (2013), revealed that there was a lack of scholarly evidence based practice and peer-reviewed literature related to occupational therapists’ role in driver rehabilitation, specifically with clients diagnosed with cognitive deficits such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, the gap between scholarly work and practice is clear however, the nature of the gap remains unclear. For this reason, a needs assessment is essential to systematically identify the reasoning for this lack of evidence and encourage further research in this area.. In order to prepare for a future needs assessment, literature on OT’s role in reducing barriers for adults with dementia related to the occupation of driving in practice publications and scholarly work needs to be addressed in the field of occupational therapy.
A systematic analysis of the four primary practice publications for the profession of occupational therapy (OT Practice, OT Advance, AOTA.org, and AOTA 94th Annual Conference and Expo brochure) was conducted in preparation of a high quality need assessment. Within the practice publications “dementia”, “driving”, and “dementia and driving”, were the key terms analyzed which yielded 354 related publications. Inclusion criteria included practice publications data from 2006-2014, that were specific to OT practice with “dementia”, “driving”, or both “driving and dementia” within the practice publications listed above. Data collected discussed protocols for how occupational therapists are currently addressing individuals with cognitive deficits specifically focusing on driving. Exclusion criteria included outsource links to other databases, podcast, transcriptions of webinars, practice publications that were not specific to “role of occupational therapy,” “dementia,” “driving,” “driving and dementia” and...