Date of Award

Fall 12-2022

Document Type

MOT Group Research Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy


Rehabilitation Sciences

Research Coordinator

Christine Raber, PHD, OTR/L

Program Director

Barbara Warnock, DHSc, OTR/L


This mixed-methods descriptive survey study investigated the occupational functioning of court-involved youth with a history or risk of substance use, from the perspectives of mental health and education staff, within a rural, Mid-western county. Millions of Americans suffer from some form of substance use disorder (The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2017). According to The National Survey on Drug and Health, 23% of the youth population have reportedly tried and illicit drug (SAMHSA, 2016) and as little as 10% of the youth population are receiving treatment (NIDA, 2014). The purpose of this study was to implement a mixed-methods design that aimed to understand the extent of occupational dysfunction among court involved youth with a history or risk of a substance use disorder as well as identify potential barriers as perceived by educational and mental health staff. The survey participants represented a convenience sample of eight education staff members (n=8) and five mental health staff members (n=5) with experience working with the targeted population. The results indicated trauma and a lack of parent or guardian supervision as common life stressors among youth with a history or risk of substance use and reported barriers to occupational functioning as a lack of parental support and lack of appropriate social engagement. Findings from the survey were consistent with established literature and provide insights into program development targeting the population of interest with regional specificity.

Keywords: occupational therapy, adjudicated youth, adolescents, adverse childhood experience, substance use


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