Mental health consumer involvement in occupational therapy education in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand

Justin Newton Scanlan, Alexandra Logan, Karen Arblaster, Kirsti Haracz, Ellie Fossey, Benjamin Tyler Milbourn, Geneviève Pépin, Tawanda Machingura, Jayne S. Webster, The ANZOTMHA Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Recovery-oriented practice policies and occupational therapy education accreditation standards require that consumers are engaged in the design, delivery and evaluation of curricula. This consumer involvement (sometimes referred to as service-user involvement or patient involvement in other contexts) should go beyond consumers simply ‘telling their stories’ to more meaningful collaboration in curricula. This study was designed to map the current patterns of consumer involvement in occupational therapy programs across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Method: A survey was distributed to all occupational therapy programs across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The survey included questions related to: (a) perceived enablers and barriers to consumer involvement in education; (b) organisational structures and support; (c) ways in which consumer are involved in the design, delivery and evaluation of curricula; (d) access to remuneration for consumers; (e) overall ratings of the level of consumer involvement in curricula; and (f) academic confidence in working with consumers. Results: Usable responses were received for 23 programs from 19 universities (83% response rate). Every program reported some consumer involvement in the curriculum. Consumer participation tended to be mainly focussed on curriculum delivery with less frequent involvement in curriculum design or evaluation. The most common barrier to consumer involvement in curricula was ‘funding/remuneration for consumers’ and the most common enabler of consumer involvement was ‘positive attitudes of teaching staff’. Conclusion: In comparison to previous reports, consumer involvement in occupational therapy curricula has increased over the past decade. However, ongoing effort is required to support true collaboration in all aspects of curriculum design, delivery and evaluation. While this will require attention and effort from academic teams, changes at a university level to establish systems to engage and effectively remunerate consumers for their involvement (especially in design and evaluation elements) are also required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • co-design
  • consumer
  • occupational therapy education
  • service user

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