Spirituality as a neglected core in occupational therapy practice: An Iranian exploratory survey

Masoud Babaei, Hassan Rafiey, Ashraf Karbalaee-nouri, Mehdi Rassafiani, Hojjatollah Haghgoo, Akbar Biglarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spirituality has received more attention in recent decades from different health disciplines. Occupational Therapy (OT), as a health discipline, believes that all aspects of human experience, including physical, psychological, social, and spiritual, are considered essential aspects of health. OT supports the fact that incorporating spirituality can promote health, well-being, and quality of life. Various researchers have attempted to investigate and explain occupational therapists’ views on spirituality. In Iran’s OT curriculum, spirituality has not been incorporated directly. The purpose of this study is to acquire information about the knowledge and opinions of Iranian occupational therapists about spirituality. This is a cross-sectional exploratory descriptive survey study in which 125 occupational therapists participated through convenience sampling. Inclusion criteria were, namely (a) at least one-year clinical experience of OT, (b) being educated in Iran, and (c) working in Iran. The Occupational Therapy Assessment of Spirituality (OTAS) questionnaire was used for data collection. The answers to the quantitative questions were analyzed through descriptive statistics. Most of the participants believed that spirituality should be incorporated by occupational therapists, but more than half of the participants disagreed that formal education prepared them to pay any attention to spirituality in their practice. Analyzing qualitative data by frequencies of their repetitions, led to four categories and sixteen subcategories, accordingly. The four categories are (1) the barriers to applying spirituality in OT, (2) the need to acquire knowledge and apply spirituality in OT, (3) the benefits of incorporating spirituality for a client, and (4) the benefits of incorporating spirituality for the occupational therapist. The findings indicate that academic education has failed to prepare Iranian occupational therapists to meet spiritual needs of their clients. However, OTs tend to get information about spirituality from other sources and find it helpful for themselves and their clients. There are also barriers to applying spirituality; therefore, an educational package is needed to address these problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207–1222
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number2
Early online date19 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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