Assessing the effectiveness of an intervention promoting occupational therapy student well-being
Occupational therapy students experience decreased well-being during their educational experience. Extending self-compassion to oneself, engaging in meaningful occupations, and experiencing occupational balance are known to positively impact well-being in individuals. The purpose of this convergent mixed methods study was to determine the effectiveness of a newly developed and distinctively occupation-based intervention in promoting well-being in occupational therapy students. Quantitative data was collected via four standardized measures (14-Item Scales of General Well-Being, Self-Compassion Scale–Short Form, Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey, Occupational Balance Questionnaire 11) at three timepoints (pre-intervention, immediate post-intervention, 6 weeks post-intervention) and analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA. Reflections completed pre-intervention and immediately post-intervention comprised the qualitative data, which was analyzed using a multiple layer coding process resulting in four themes: current levels of well-being, obstacles and facilitators to well-being, strategies to promote well-being, and definitions and assumptions about well-being. Qualitative data was also analyzed through a theory of occupational adaptation lens, resulting in themes related to desire for mastery, press for mastery leading to occupational challenges, adaptive repertoire of strategies, and varying levels of relative mastery. The manualized intervention included six 45 min virtual synchronous sessions, which were delivered once per week and included a variety of activities (e.g., small and large group discussions, opportunities for exploration, reflection, and practice, mini teaching sessions). Results showed statistically significant differences in well-being (p = .024, ηp2 = .09), self-compassion (p = .006, ηp2 = .12), and engagement in meaningful occupations (p = .014, ηp2 = .10) between intervention and control group participants, suggesting that the intervention was effective. The results suggest that when the intervention study participants were self-compassionate and were intentional about promoting their well-being, they increased their participation in a variety of meaningful occupations moving them towards more occupational balance and improved well-being. This occupation-based intervention may serve as an alternative to current programming offered within higher education settings to promote graduate student well-being. Future studies are warranted to generalize results beyond this specific group of students and to determine the intervention’s effectiveness long term and with other populations.