Why do students in OTD programs respond so differently to survey questions about the OTD mandate?


Question: Why do students in OTD programs respond so differently to survey questions about the OTD mandate?



In May 2018, the American Occupational Therapy Association sent a survey to all AOTA members about the educational requirements put forth by ACOTE. More than 7,400 AOTA members completed the survey.  Students enrolled in OTD programs responded very differently than every other group.  That is a data point that requires some analysis.
 
This particular graph, with this breakdown of responses, represents an ethical question for the profession. That we have 60-65% of everyone except OTD students AGAINST the mandate, and 60-65% of OTD students FOR the mandate is a call for some real soul searching.


I personally believe that this response pattern may represent a sunk cost bias phenomenon.  The more important question is "How did that happen?" or "Why do students have such different ideas on the OTD mandate?"

AOTA members are bound by the AOTA Code of Ethics.  This graph calls into question some possible concerns with several ethical principles.  I am not alleging that there are definite violations of these principles; rather, I am suggesting an exercise in self-reflection to determine if there were any violations that would contribute to such a disparate response pattern from students who were enrolled in OTD programs. 

Principle 2, NONMALEFICENCE, states that occupational therapy personnel shall refrain from actions that cause harm.  Specifically,
   a. Avoid inflicting hardship or injury to... students.
   f. Avoid dual relationships, conflicts of interest, and situations in which an...educator... is unable to maintain... objectivity
    h. Avoid compromising the rights or well-being of others based on arbitrary directives... by exercising professional judgement and critical analysis.

Principle 3, AUTONOMY, states that occupational therapy personnel shall respect the right of the individual to self determination, privacy, confidentiality, and consent.  Specifically,
    f. Refrain from threatening, coercing, or deceiving clients [students] to promote compliance with occupational therapy recommendations.

Principle 5, VERACITY, states that occupational therapy personnel shall provide comprehensive, accurate, and objective information when representing the profession.  Specifically,
   b. Refrain from using or participating in the use of any form of communication that contains false, fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, or unfair statements or claims.
   i. Provide students with access to accurate information regarding educational requirements and academic policies and procedures relative to the occupational therapy program or educational institution.

Principle 6, FIDELITY, states that occupational therapy personnel shall treat... colleagues... with respect, fairness, discretion, and integrity.  Specifically,
   c. Avoid conflicts of interest or conflicts of commitment...

+++++++++

The graph clearly indicates that this one sub-group that responded to the survey had a very different response pattern as compared to every other group.  It is unlikely that this response pattern happened accidentally.  The occupational therapy profession needs to wonder how and why that happened.

  

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