Habits and Health Promotion in Occupational Therapy: A Scoping Review

Habits are vital to good health and the project aim and purpose is to examine the current state of the literature on habits and health promotion within occupational therapy promotion to determine future research avenues.

Student name: Erin Epley, OTD, OTR/L
Name of Mentor: Jenica Lee, OTD, OTR/L, Mansha Mirza, PhD, OTR/L, MSHSOR, and Gail Fisher, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
School: UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Capstone setting: Hybrid

Capstone Objectives

The project comprised 3 steps: 1) action - writing a scoping review on the topic, 2) dissemination - submitting the review for publication, and 3) evaluation - undergoing the peer review process through the chosen journal.


To ensure a rigorous review, the project required a team of authors and was guided by a protocol from the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Manual for Evidence Synthesis (Peters et al., 2020) and followed a 22-item checklist from the PRISMA-ScR (Tricco et al., 2018). Also utilized was the 6-stage framework for scoping reviews by researchers Arksey & O’Malley (2005).


Prior to completion of the OTD degree, the scoping review was submitted for peer review as part of the evaluation component of the degree and was accepted for publication by the Annals of International Occupational Therapy.


Future research should explore best practices in OT for assisting patients and clients to create habits and routines that promote good health.

Practitioners should use their knowledge and expertise in environmental supports, barriers, and modifications to support habit formation and change (Fogelberg et al., 2016; Fritz, 2014; Fritz et al., 2016; Fritz et al., 2019; Fritz et al., 2020; Jirikowic et al., 2016; Pitonyak, 2014, Pyatak et al., 2018; Smith et al., 2020; Surrow et al., 2020).

OTPs should also assess routines and aid clients to embed new habits into existing routines (Sanders & Van Oss, 2013; Thompson, 2014).

2-3 ideas for future directions to build on this project

  • The term disease self-management was not explored and could be in a future scoping review.
  • An exploration of which habit methods are in regular use by OTPs could inform next steps for OT education and the field at large.

Reflections on how you see this project influencing your OT career trajectory.

Habits are a life’s work, for each of us, myself included. In that sense, the work I did for my OTD informs my hours, days, and weeks. I am passionate about learning more and about using myself as an ‘n’ of 1 to practice habit strategies. In the future, I would like to further the work by exploring some of the avenues of research discovered by the review.

Habits and Health Promotion in Occupational Therapy: A Scoping Review