UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation research grants (UKOTRF)

Building an evidence-base for occupational therapy by supporting research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of occupation-focused interventions.

The United Kingdom Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF) is a division of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

The UKOTRF supports research that will build the evidence-base for occupational therapy and increase research capacity within the profession. It has a role in raising awareness of the valuable contribution of occupation to people's health and wellbeing.

The UKOTRF aims to fulfil its mission of building an evidence-base in order to:

  • promote, maintain and restore health;
  • inform service design and delivery;
  • develop evidence-based occupational therapy practitioners; and
  • support the next generation of occupational therapy research leaders.

The four key goals of the UKOTRF are to:

  1. award research grants for projects to meet the identified research priorities of the profession
  2. develop occupational therapy research leaders
  3. build research capacity and capability to create a cadre of research-skilled occupational therapists
  4. obtain donations for grants to fund occupational therapy research

UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation research grants

The UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation (UKOTRF) invites research proposals to be submitted on an annual basis. The overall aim of funding support is to meet identified research priorities within the profession and to build research capacity and capability within occupational therapy. There are two main grant categories:

  • Research Priority Grant - to support a major research project that clearly addresses an identified professional research priority area
  • Research Career Development Grant - to support doctoral studies or post-doctoral activity undertaken within five years of completing a PhD or similar for occupational therapists who intend to pursue a research career pathway.

From time to time, other grant funding opportunities may be offered via the UKOTRF including those supported by external sponsors.

UKOTRF funded projects - are they making an impact?

A study undertaken by Mandy Sainty, Research and Development Manager at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, has explored the impact of eight completed research projects funded by the UK Occupational Therapy Research Foundation. The assessment provided evidence of the impact of UKOTRF funded projects, but also identifies, in common with other studies, the inherent complexities of measuring impact: 


More about UKOTRF

Research priorities

Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions

The effectiveness of occupation-focused interventions continues to be the major priority identified by occupational therapists for research activity. Establishing effectiveness, in terms of a measurable result that can inform future practice, is closely linked to:

  • the use of standardised assessments and outcome measures in the context of service provision; and
  • cost-effectiveness studies to support the commissioning of occupation focused services


Occupation, health and wellbeing

Targeted research activity should be used to increase our understanding of the causal relationship between occupation, health and wellbeing. This will enable occupational therapists to access the evidence needed to promote their unique skills and contribution to health and social care delivery.

Service delivery and organisation

Research is needed into the organisation and delivery of services, with a focus on workforce design and diversity, skills mix, demographic trends and population needs. The changing pattern of delivery of health and social care throughout the UK means that occupational therapists and support workers need evidence to support the relevance of occupation-focused interventions in an increasingly diverse range of environments. Whilst the integration of services within the community remains a key area for evaluation, research endeavours need to be responsive to new and emerging areas of practice.

Involvement of service users and carers

It is a priority for research into occupational therapy service provision that service users and their carers are involved at all stages of the research process. Such inclusion will enable research questions to be focused more clearly on aspects that directly address people's health and lifestyle needs. In terms of service redesign and delivery it is recognised that the users of research may be occupational therapists rather than service users.

The context of research priorities

It is clear that occupational therapy research will take place within a number of overarching contexts, and prime consideration must be given to the following aspects when developing research questions:

  • Gaps in the existing knowledge base can only be identified for research from a thorough literature search and systematic review of existing evidence
  • Government priority areas are the main drivers for much supported research activity
  • Occupational therapists should focus individual research endeavours within larger programmes of research, maintaining awareness that funders prefer multi-professional research

Current grant holders and project abstracts

Research Priority Grants

Research Career Development Grants

The Elizabeth Casson Trust Postdoctoral Award

UKOTRF Summaries of key findings

Funded project outputs demonstrate the value of investment in occupational therapy research and the contribution of the projects to building the evidence-base for occupational therapy practice.
A summary of key findings is provided below for each completed project. These include, where known, journal publication references.
All funded projects are required to provide a final project report, a hard copy of which will be placed in the College library for reference by members six months after the project has been signed off by the College.

Summaries of key findings

Completed projects are listed below by overarching topic, then alphabetically by title.

Mental health

Musculoskeletal Conditions


Neurological practice

UKOTRF Advisory Group

The work of the UKOTRF is overseen by an Advisory Group, which provides expertise and guidance to facilitate the College in making the best decisions in investing in research projects

The Advisory Group comprises 6 research-skilled individuals from within and outside the profession, who undertake some reviewing activity and meet once a year to shortlist and agree projects. Advisory Group meetings are chaired by the Chair of BA/RCOT Council.

  • Dr Jennifer Wenborn: Senior Clinical Research Associate: Division of Psychiatry, University College London / R&D Department, North East London NHS Foundation Trust. Appointed to the UKOTRF Advisory Group 2015.
  • Dr Frances Reynolds: Reader, Division of Occupational Therapy, Brunel University. Appointed to the UKOTRF Advisory Group 2014.
  • Dr Lynne Goodacre: Independent Practitioner. Appointed to the UKTORF Advisory Group 2016
  • Dr Rebecca Fisher: Stroke Association HRH The Princess Margaret Senior Lecturer, Division of Rehabilitation & Ageing, University of Nottingham. Appointed to the UKOTRF Advisory Group 2016.
  • Dr. Roshan das Nair: Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Honorary Associate Professor, Division of Rehabilitation & Ageing, University of Nottingham. Appointed to the UKOTRF Advisory Group 2014
  • Prof Krysia Dziedzic: Arthritis Research UK Professor of Musculoskeletal Therapies, Keele University. Appointed to the UKOTRF Advisory Group 2016.

UKOTRF Early Researcher Award

The UKOTRF Early Researcher Award is available to presenters at the RCOT Annual Conference.

If your oral paper is selected to be presented within the main RCOT conference then you may be eligible to be considered for the UKOTRF Early Researcher Award. You must be presenting on the research findings from your post-registration Masters or doctoral studies, or other first piece of ethically-approved research undertaken post-registration as an occupational therapist. This prestigious prize recognises excellence in research and presentation skills, and is highly valued by its recipients. Winners to date have commented on their delight at peer recognition of the value of their research and how being selected has reinforced their intention to continue to disseminate their research findings through conference presentation.

You can apply to be considered for the award via the on-line abstract submission process. To be eligible for consideration, you must be:

  • a current BAOT member
  • submitting the abstract yourself
  • undertaking the presentation yourself
  • presenting on your research findings

Judging is undertaken by members of the Research and Development Board and the Education and Research Team using a marking schedule designed to capture information about overall presentation skills, the strength of the methodology and implications of the findings. All presenters participating in the scheme receive written feedback on their presentation. The name of the award winner and their presentation topic will be published in OTnews.

Recipients of the Early Researcher Award to date:

  • Becky Field (2017): "Identifying influences on take-up of a community occupational therapy intervention for people with dementia and their family carers"
  • Natalie Jones (2016): "What are the experiences of stroke survivors with managing eating in the long-term?"
  • Clare Sugarman (2016): "The lived experience of parents whose children are deafblind: an occupational perspective"
  • Katie Hackett (2015): "Identifying participation barriers and key intervention targets for an autoimmune disease"
  • Jane Horne (2015): "Developing a New, Patient Reported, Confidence After Stroke Measure (CASM)"
  • Rachel Russell (2014): "Development of an occupation-focused process for modifying home environments"
  • Joanne Porter (2013): "Parental experiences of an occupational therapy parent education programme"
  • Lindsay Phillips (2012): "The meanings of art-making to informal carers of relatives with dementia"
  • Carol Coole (2011): "Concerns of employed patients with low back pain: a qualitative study"
  • Dr Helen Myers (2010): "Musculoskeletal problems in older adults: occupational therapy and the population iceberg"
  • Joanna Fletcher-Smith (2010): "An inter-rater reliability study of the Nottingham Stroke Dressing Assessment (NSDA)"


Other forms of funding:

The Constance Owens Trust and The Elizabeth Casson Trust are external grant giving bodies that offer financial support towards occupational therapists' research and CPD activities.

For further details on The Constance Owens Trust please contact: 

Download information about the support available from The Constance Owens Trust