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Anatomy in occupational therapy program curriculum: Practitioners' perspectives


  • Katherine Anne Schofield

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Health Sciences, Midwestern University, Glendale, Arizona
    • Correspondence to: Dr. Katherine A. Schofield, Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Health Sciences, Midwestern University, Ocotillo Hall, 19555, North 59th Avenue, Glendale, Arizona 85308, USA. E-mail:

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Anatomy education is undergoing significant transformation. It is unknown whether changes are in accordance with occupational therapy (OT) practice needs. The purpose of this pilot study was to survey OT clinicians to determine their perspectives on the value of anatomy in OT curricula, and anatomical knowledge required for practice. In addition to demographics, the survey asked questions on the value of a standalone anatomy course, integration of anatomical content in other coursework, practice areas requiring anatomy knowledge, course content, teaching media recommendations, and their opinions regarding whether graduates have adequate anatomy knowledge for competent practice. Surveys were distributed to OT practitioners in the state of Arizona (n = 107). Response rate was 51% on electronic surveys, 29% on mailed surveys. All respondents recommended an anatomy course in OT curricula; 97% as a standalone course with integration of course content throughout the curriculum. The most recommended teaching method was cadaver dissection. Content areas identified as important to cover included skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. Regions recommended were the upper limb, thorax/trunk, head and neck, and lower limb. Practice areas requiring anatomy knowledge included joint range of motion and strengthening treatment interventions, goniometry, muscle strength testing, assessing muscle tone, wheelchair assessment/prescription, orthotics, physical agent modalities, and activity adaptation. Eighty-one percent felt that entry-level practitioners had adequate knowledge for competent practice. This study supports inclusion of a separate anatomy course in OT curricula, continued use of cadavers, and the importance of including input from practicing clinicians when determining anatomy course content. Anat Sci Educ 7: 97–106. © 2013 American Association of Anatomists

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