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OT 643: Biomechanical Approaches in OT: Home

Research for Your Home Program

You can use this guide to get started with your literature review for your home program!

  • Consider your topic(s) and all that you need to cover in your assignment, which really is a two-part research assignment for treatment and then patient or client education. Consider all of the following elements:
    • Diagnosis/Impairment
    • Biomechanical treatment/intervention
    • Barriers to Adherence
    • Benefits
  • Keywords/Search Terms
    • Be sure to consider: scope, synonyms, language/jargon.
      • Start by considering whether there are different names for the diagnosis or impairment; for instance, "skier's thumb" is also known as "gamekeeper's thumb" and is also described as an ulnar collateral ligament injury or UCL tea.  Consider colloquial language as well as technical descriptions, and try to figure out whether there are regional or international variations in language. 
      • Think about the scope of your search, and consider adjusting to a more narrow search if your topic is bringing up many results (for instance, if your case study involves an athlete with a torn ACL, consider narrowing further to a specific type of athlete), or searching more broadly if you are having trouble finding specifically relevant literature (if your case study specifies a 7 year old girl with burn injuries to a hand, you may need to look at studies involving children of a variety of ages and genders).
      • When researching treatment, consider your search terms: "home program" is almost never a useful search term because it's not a commonly used phrase in the published literature. Think about phrases like "treatment" or "management" or "rehabilitation" instead. Also, consider where you are searching: if you are searching in a broad database like PubMed or CINAHL, you may wish to include terms like "occupational therapy" whereas if you are searching AJOT directly, it wouldn't make sense to include OT as a search term since the entire journal is dedicated to OT!
  • Gather background information as necessary before beginning your literature search.
    • You may find it helpful to look for textbooks, search for websites, or consult encyclopedias to gather background information on your topic before diving into the literature. 
      • If searching online, look for patient advocacy organizations or foundations or other reputable sources.
      • If searching Primo for books or textbooks, remember to keep your search terms more broad/general than you would for an article search: "biomechanics of the hand" will be more helpful than "skier's thumb."
      • You may wish to check out an encyclopedia, such as the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine or  the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing & Allied Health.
  • You may need different approaches for different elements of the literature search!
    • When searching for literature to review patient/client education, you may find many fewer results than when searching for literature supporting a specific home might need to adjust your scope, change your search terms, or use different databases. 


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Eli Gandour-Rood
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