Journal Article

Moving from theory to practice in occupational therapy education for planetary health : a theoretical view


Introduction: There remains a dearth of easily-implemented strategies for translating environmental and sustainability policy into practice within occupational therapy education. In this context, the research-implementation time lag is problematic since time is of the essence when seeking evidence-based educational strategies to address planetary health challenges. The undertaking of practical experimentation to develop strategies for policy implementation and translation is challenged by the urgency of the issues faced. Purpose: This paper aims to contribute to conversations around translating awareness of planetary health to practical action for occupational therapy education by proposing a framework for practical ‘doing’ skills, based on conceptually sound, theoretical foundations that support likely efficacy. Methods: Three skills are suggested as a means to close the theory-practice gap while incorporating what is known about educational processes supporting the transition from novice to expert occupational therapy practitioner. The first skill proposed is a rethinking of essential forms of clinical reasoning, with the introduction of environmental and sustainable reasoning as mandatory. Founded in an adoption of ‘two-eyed seeing’, the second skill emphasises bidirectional questioning for climate-just, person-centred care. The third skill explores interprofessional educational collaboration for environmental sustainability. Conclusions: Acknowledging the centrality of novice practitioner as part of occupational therapy learner professional identity requires appropriate strategies for learning clinical reasoning skills related to environmental sustainability, planetary health and the potential discomfort of authentic bi-directional questioning. Implications of adopting these strategies are discussed in relation to their potential contribution to positive change for the occupational therapy profession and wider society.

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Hess, Ka Yan
Rihtman, Tanya

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-03-13

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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