The role of play in pediatric occupational therapy

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy


Objective. This study examined the roles that play occupies within current occupational therapy practice with preschoolers.

Method. Two hundred twenty-four pediatric occupational therapists completed mail questionnaires designed to ascertain how they use play in their practice, their knowledge and use of play assessments, and potential constraints on their use of play.

Results. Although respondents indicated that play was important in motivating children and frequently used play as a treatment modality or reinforcer, they Less frequently assessed play behaviors or wrote treatment goals and objectives related to play. Differences were found between school-based and non-school-based respondents regarding the discipline or model that addresses play in the work setting, the use of play assessments, and constraints that Limit the use of play in the work setting.

Conclusion. The results suggest a need for increasing the emphasis on play in entry-Level curricula and continuing education, improving clinician access to valid and reliable play assessments, and completing studies designed to examine the use and efficacy of play in occupational therapy intervention.