Knowledge generation and utilisation in occupational therapy: Towards epistemic reflexivity

E.A. Kinsella, G.E. Whiteford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The purpose of this article is to consider the ways in which theory generation, and hence knowledge generation, in occupational therapy is a complex social process, and therefore carries (often hidden) responsibilities for those who are part of our epistemic community. An epistemic community is a knowledge-producing community, who apply their standards of credibility, and epistemic values, to theory choice. In occupational therapy this community is comprised of a worldwide group of scholars and practitioners. Methods: We propose that epistemic reflexivity can be used to critique and contribute to our disciplinary knowledge and to critically consider 'who' makes epistemological choices in our profession, and the consequent implications for the theories we adopt. The purpose of this article is to make these relations explicit so that scholars and therapists can become increasingly conscious and empowered with respect to their contributions to occupational therapy's epistemic community. To demonstrate an application of epistemic reflexivity, we critically consider a theoretical construction that has been widely adopted by the international occupational therapy community: evidence-based practice. Results: As authors, we engage in epistemic reflexivity to critically consider the challenge posed by evidence-based practice. We propose a conception of practice knowledge that is informed by evidence yet based on a conception of wise practice. Conclusion: Our intention is to stimulate discussion and debate in occupational therapy's epistemic community, a number of approaches for fostering epistemic reflexivity in occupational therapy are suggested. © Journal compilation © 2009 Australian Association of Occupational Therapists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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