Forming partnerships with obstetricians & gynecologists: exploring occupational therapy's role in the primary care of women
Grijalba Illescas, Vanessa Carolina
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The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) supports the expansion of Occupational Therapy (OT) in primary care (PC), including specialty areas like Obstetrics & Gynecology (OB/GYN) (AOTA Commission of Education, 2017). The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) recommends that physicians utilize an interdisciplinary team to address obesity (ACOG, 2016). However, OT’s role in OB/GYN is undefined and both disciplines are unaware of this role. The hope of this project is to facilitate the integration of OT services into OB/GYN PC teams by defining a role for OTs, increasing OTs’ awareness of this role, and contributing to the tools for OTs in OB/GYN PC. A webinar will be used to increase OT’s awareness because of their convenience, interactivity, and efficacy to increase OT’s knowledge and confidence on a subject (Pittman & Lawdis, 2017).The Ecology of Human Performance (EHP) framework is used to understand the healthcare need. There is an increasing prevalence of overweight/obesity and low rate of physical activity (PA) in women of reproductive age (WRA, 19-39 years) (Flegal, Kruszon-Moran, Carroll, Fryar, & Ogden, 2016; Melton, Bland, Marshall & Bigham, 2016). Therefore, WRA are limited in their performance of health management and maintenance tasks that influence obesity (AOTA, 2014). This is a public health concern because women with obesity and little PA have an increased chance of developing other chronic conditions, having a child with neurodevelopmental conditions and obesity, also social stigma and limited performance of life tasks (Mitchell & Saw, 2015;Saliman Reingold, Jordan, & Amini, 2013). This population relies on OB/GYNs for their PC (Stormo, Mona, Hing, Henderson, & Sawa, 2014). However, OB/GYNs do not routinely treat obesity because of self-reported barriers including lack of time/training and social/weight bias (Lindheim et al., 2017; Smith et al., 2015). Also, OT’s—who are distinctly qualified to address health management and maintenance—are not utilized in OB/GYN PC because of both profession’s decreased awareness of OT’s role. This project proposes that OTs have a distinct role in OB/GYN PC teams by supporting physicians in treating obesity using a context and occupation-based approach, not currently utilized, which impacts WRA and future generations.