When the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) joined the Choosing Wisely campaign with the June 2018 publication of its first list of “Five Things Patients and Providers Should Question,” its leaders wanted its members to feel a sense of ownership of the new initiative. So they crafted a plan to achieve that.
AOTA published two news articles about the list and how to implement the recommendations on its website and member portal, distributed a press release, published Q&A articles with experts on each of the five recommendations, hosted a webinar on the Choosing Wisely campaign during its Membership Appreciation Week and produced a video for social media and its e-newsletters.
The society posted two blog posts linking to member conversations about the AOTA campaign as well as member reflections on the campaign, held a Town Hall meeting at its 2019 annual conference with an expert panelist representing each recommendation and made “I am Choosing Wisely” ribbons for conference attendees. It also created a Listserv to keep members updated on developments and to encourage grassroots advocacy, making a PowerPoint (PPT) and other materials available to members to help them give their own presentations to colleagues. Earlier this year, the project team published a methods article in the March/April 2019 issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Most recently, AOTA published a handout on Recommendation #1, which is the first in a series of resources that will address “what to do” to complement each of the “do not” recommendations.
This fall, AOTA will announce the winners of its first Choosing Wisely Champions campaign and host discussions about implementation with AOTA stakeholders such as presidents of state associations.
“We established a strategy in terms of how we wanted to create, publish and promote this initiative and what we wanted to achieve,” said Melissa Stutzbach, MS, OTR, the society’s past Program Manager for Education & Young Professional Development. She said they were “very transparent” to ensure members understand the purpose and the process for developing the list, involving governance groups, the commission on practice, student groups, field work groups and rank-and-file members.
“The list is a reflection of member values, and the recommendations get at the core of our profession. We have all experienced seeing outdated interventions. It’s the first time they have been called out in a super explicit way,” Stutzbach said. “It has created a lot of great dialogue between members.”
The society’s planning has paid off, with searches on its website for the term “Choosing Wisely” having increased by 340 percent. In addition, members regularly present at local, state and national conferences as well as in their workplaces. On social media, members are driving conversation as well, particularly within the AOTA’s online community, CommunOT.
At the end of each week, AOTA members participate in Functional Fridays in the online community, sharing examples of what they are doing to implement the recommendations and educate others.
AOTA Program Director Deborah Lieberman said they were excited that the initiative has taken off with such enthusiasm, adding that the senior management was initially hesitant about how the campaign would be received and perceived among members.
Lieberman attributed some of the success to having strong content experts, including academic scholars, who participated in dissemination efforts, and to having a multipronged approach. One of the voices of the campaign has been Glen Gillen, EdD, OTR, FAOTA, the public-facing advocate of the project and leader in the field, and Director of Programs in Occupational Therapy in the Department of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
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