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Research indicates that there is a correlation between racism and impact on occupations (Beagan & Etowa, 2009; Gershenson et al., 2016; Lavalley & Johnson, 2020). The purpose of this study was to expand on the existing research of occupational impacts of racism on the Black community and discover any differences or new themes that have occurred in the past decade. Additionally, this research project investigated specific examples and experiences that lead to these occupational impacts. The student researcher used surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews to gather data focused on the occupational needs and engagement of this population. The research question of this study was: What are the occupational impacts of racism from the perspectives and experiences of Black occupational therapists? The purpose of recruiting Black individuals within the realm of occupational therapy is due to the assumption that they have a true understanding of occupation, and have more insight on the impact racism has on occupations, drawn from their own personal experiences. This student researcher hypothesized that there were undiscovered impacts on occupational engagement and impacts on performance patterns (habits, routines, roles, and rituals) within this population, which became evident through this research study. The study has proven that there are many other occupations impacted by racism such as, but not limited to, social participation, dressing, eating, safety and emergency maintenance, driving and community mobility, shopping, and physical activity. Overall, the study found that anticipatory stress and the fear of affirming stereotypes leads to Black individuals avoiding and adapting occupations. In addition, while engaging in certain occupations, many Black individuals feel as though they cannot fully enjoy themselves, therefore decreasing the quality of engagement. This information is important to the profession of occupational therapy and will open up a broader conversation regarding systemic racism and the profession’s role in supporting the Black community and promoting occupational justice for all people.

Publication Date

Spring 4-14-2022


University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences


occupational impacts, racism, black occupational therapists, diversity, occupational therapy, racism

Medical Subject Headings

Occupational Therapy, Occupational Stress, African Americans, Racism, Surveys and Questionnaires


Occupational Therapy | Race and Ethnicity | Social Justice


Poster presented at the Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium, held online at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences April 12-14, 2022.

Black Occupational Therapists’ Experiences on the Occupational Impacts of Racism