OTseeker - Occupational Therapy Systematic Evaluation of Evidence

Origins and Development of OTseeker

1. The team

A team of five people was responsible for developing the OTseeker database. The team includes occupational therapists from two Australian universities:

University of Queensland (School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences):

  • Dr Kryss McKenna
  • Dr Sally Bennett
  • Professor Jenny Strong
  • Dr Leigh Tooth
  • Dr Tammy Hoffmann

University of Western Sydney (School of Exercise and Health Sciences)

  • Dr Annie McCluskey

Sally Bennett (Occupational Therapist) is employed as the OTseeker Project Manager, at the University of Queensland to manage the database, and to rate the articles that are included in OTseeker.

2. Origins

The database was only an idea when 65 occupational therapists met in March 2001 in Brisbane, Queensland for an International Symposium on Evidence-Based Occupational Therapy. Presentations were made by professionals from other disciplines, including physiotherapy. PEDro, the Physiotherapy Evidence Database had already been developed by a group in Sydney. The possibility of developing an occupational therapy evidence database was discussed at length, particularly by a sub-group from Australia. Research had already been conducted on barriers to evidence-based occupational therapy (Bennett et al, 2003; McCluskey, 2003), and preferred strategies for disseminating research to occupational therapists in Australia (Bennett et al, 2003).

As a result of this 1-day symposium, several multi-national working groups were established. The aim of the groups was to plan effective strategies for collecting, disseminating and classifying evidence related to occupational therapy practice. established. The aim of the groups was to plan effective strategies for collecting, disseminating and classifying evidence related to occupational therapy practice.

The OTseeker team began considering possible funding sources for the database, and set about writing multiple grant applications. Support, encouragement and practical help were generously provided by the developers of the Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) at the Centre for Evidence-Based Physiotherapy in Sydney.

3. Obtaining financial support

To date OTseeker has been developed and maintained with generous funding from OT-Australia and the Motor Accidents Authority of New South Wales, and with infrastructure support from the University of Queensland and University of Western Sydney. Funding for the resource pages of OTseeker has been provided by CAOT.

4. Development of the database

Since mid-2002, work has been underway to locate, collect, and rate randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews relevant to occupational therapy. Automatic alerts are now in place with the major databases to alert the project manager of new research articles which should be included in the database. A reliability study to examine the inter-rater reliability of the PEDro scale (partitioned) has been published indicating the PEDro scale (partitioned) is a reliable instrument for rating the quality of RCTs.

Tooth, L., Bennett, S., McCluskey, A., Hoffmann, T., McKenna, K., & Lovarini, M. (2005). Appraising the quality of randomized controlled trials: Inter-rater reliability for the OTseeker evidence database. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 11, 547-555.

5. The future of OTseeker

The maintenance and future development of OTseeker is dependent on ongoing funding. Any organisation or individual interested in providing funding to support the ongoing maintenance of OTseeker is encouraged to contact the OTseeker project manager (details on Contacts page).

As does PEDro, the OTseeker team intends to add new research to OTseeker on an ongoing basis so that professionals and consumers can access the best evidence about the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions.


Bennett, S., Tooth, L., McKenna. K., Rodger, S., Strong, J., Ziviani, J., Mickan, S., & Gibson, L. (2003). Perceptions of evidence based practice: A survey of occupational therapists. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, Vol 50 (1), pp13-22.

McCluskey, A. (2003). Occupational therapists report a low level of knowledge, skill and involvement in evidence-based practice. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, Vol 50 (1), pp 3-12.