York St John University
The Bridge
12 November 2008 
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Bridging the gap between research and practice

Welcome to the latest edition of the Research Centre for Occupation & Mental Health’s e-bulletin, The Bridge.

Spotlight on our partners: COT Specialist Section Mental Health

Those of you who have been following the development of RCOMH in the last six months will be aware that RCOMH, whilst hosted by the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at York St John University, is a partnership. In the last bulletin we introduced the The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and this month we focus on the College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section in Mental Health, another of our founding partners.

The COT Specialist Section Mental Health (COTSSMH) is part of the College of Occupational Therapists.  The purpose of Specialist Section is to encourage, promote, facilitate and support the advancement of occupational therapy practice and COTSSMH does this by focusing on mental health practice. In relation to research and development, our R&D strategic vision and action plan: mental health (COT 2005) identified the following key themes for research activity:

  • Understanding the relationship of activity and occupation to mental health.
  • Identifying the added value of having an occupational therapist to provide treatment and/or to supervise treatment.

It also reiterated our research priorities, ie:

  • activity/occupation
  • occupational performance
  • user perspective
  • group work
  • assessment (including risk assessment)
  • creative activities
  • technique
  • client groups (Fowler Davis and Hyde 2002)

However a recent review of Specialist Section's R&D strategies highlighted that a more focused and strategic contribution may be needed (Hampson 2007).  In light of this and the analysis in Recovering Ordinary Lives that, “There is a need for more basic research to build the knowledge base of the profession, in addition to applied research into the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions” (COT 2006: 17), the COTSSMH executive committee made the decision to become a founding partner of RCOMH.

This decision reflects the need for partnership and concerted action in relation to research and development. For occupational therapists in particular there are enormous challenges; these include research capacity, the quality of research needed for evidence based practice and research leadership. Being involved in RCOMH provides COTSSMH with a focus to ensure that occupational therapists work together with others to make a concentrated approach to growing the evidence base for occupation, mental health and wellbeing. By doing this we will avoid duplication of effort and provide our members with a more strategic approach to research and development.                             

If you want to read more see:

  • College of Occupational Therapists (2005) "Research and development strategic vision and action plan for the Association of Occupational Therapists in Mental Health." London: College of Occupational Therapists.
  • College of Occupational Therapists (2006) "Recovering Ordinary Lives The strategy for occupational therapy in mental health services 2007–2017. A vision for the next ten years." London: College of Occupational Therapists.
  • Fowler Davis S, Hyde P (2002) "Priorities in mental health research: an update." British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(8), 387–389.
  • Hampson H (2007) "Review of Specialist Section Research and Development Strategies." British Journal of Occupational Therapy 70 (12) 543-547.
Focus on funding: COT Awards, UKOTRF and other funding sources
The College of Occupational Therapists have recently announced their awards which can be useful sources of support for research work. They have seven awards which are:
  • Innovation Award
  • International Travel Award
  • Student Award 
  • COT Research Capacity Award
  • Institute of Social Psychiatry Award
  • ROMPA Quality of Life Award
  • Speechmark Bursary

To apply for these awards, with the exception of the Student Award, applicants must have been members of the British Association of Occupational Therapists for two consecutive years immediately prior to the date of application. The Student Award is open to BAOT student members in good standing. The closing date for applications is 5.00pm on Friday 12 December 2008. See www.cot.co.uk for more information.

The UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF) has announced its 2009 funding round. There are three research grants that you can apply for:

  • Research Priority Grant, £100,000, which is to support a major research project that will address a professional research priority area.
  • Research Career Development Grant, £10,000, which is to support PhD or early post-doctoral study (up to 5 years from completion of PhD or similar) for individuals who can demonstrate a career pathway in occupational therapy research.
  • Pressalit Care Research Award, £5,000, to support doctoral or early post-doctoral activity in occupation-focused research in the area of self-care.

The deadline for receipt of outline proposals for the Research Priority Grant, and full proposals for the Research Career Development Grant and the Pressalit Care Research Award is 5.00pm on Friday 30 January 2009. Again see www.cot.co.uk for more information.

If you are not an occupational therapist and/or the awards do not meet your current needs why not have a look at RDInfo, a source of health-related funding opportunities, available at www.rdinfo.org.uk

Research Clinic: support with literature searching
The Research Clinic is very fortunate to have been offered support with literature searching from Hannah Spring, who is a clinical librarian. This means you can now book an appointment for support with general research related questions (ie critically appraising research, auditing, evaluating or researching mental health, applying for research funding, doing an MPhil or PhD) or literature searching, or both. If you would like to book an appointment with the Research Clinic please contact: RCOMH@yorksj.ac.uk
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