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Aust Occup Ther J. 2016 Dec;63(6):381-390. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12293. Epub 2016 Apr 18.

Assistive Technology in Australia: Integrating theory and evidence into action.

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School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria, Australia.



Occupational therapists use a range of strategies to influence the relationship between person, environment and occupation and facilitate people's participation and inclusion in society. Technology is a fundamental environmental factor capable of enabling inclusion, and occupational therapy models articulate a role for assistive technology (AT) devices and services, but there is a gap between theory, research and practice. The context of AT provision in Australia presents systemic barriers that prevent optimal application of AT devices and services for societal health promotion and in individualised solutions.


The Integrating Theory, Evidence and Action method (ITEA) was used to answer the question 'How can occupational therapy support AT provision to enable older people and people with disability?' A wide range of sources were systematically analysed to explore the complexities of AT provision in Australia.


The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and IMPACT2 model are used as frameworks to reconstruct evidence into statements that summarise the theory, process and outcomes of AT provision. Analysis of the influence of the global disability rights and local policies and AT provision systems is used to highlight important aspects for occupational therapists to consider in research and practice. Pragmatic recommendations are provided to enable practitioners to translate theory and evidence into action.


AT provision can be improved by focusing on evidence for and congruence between theory, process and outcomes, rather than isolated interventions. Occupational therapists should consider the influence of contextual factors on practice, and work with consumers to improve access and equity in AT provision systems.


ICF ; assistive technology; disability policy; occupational therapy; outcomes measurement

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