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Occupational Therapy International
Volume 2017, Article ID 6474761, 8 pages
Review Article

The Role of the Occupational Therapist in Disaster Areas: Systematic Review

1Sapienza Università di Roma, Rome, Italy
2Department of Anatomical, Histological, Forensic and Orthopaedic Sciences, Sapienza Università di Roma, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to G. Galeoto; moc.liamg@oizalifia.ifisu

Received 6 July 2016; Revised 29 November 2016; Accepted 4 January 2017; Published 31 January 2017

Academic Editor: Erna I. Blanche

Copyright © 2017 M. Parente et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Disasters are increasingly more frequent events on our planet. During disaster the role of the occupational therapist will require a more specific operative framework within nongovernmental organizations and community health services. Design. Systematic review. Objective. The aim of this study is to evaluate the evidence that highlight occupational therapist’s role in disaster area through a systematic review. Materials and Methods. Research on MEDLINE was performed. All articles from 2005 to 2015 concerning rehabilitation and occupational therapy in disaster areas were included. Results. Ten studies were selected to be included in this review. Four interesting points emerged: the importance of having rehabilitation intervention in postdisaster situations, the necessity to include a rehabilitation team in the early phase of disaster response, the need to provide a method to address the difficult evacuation, and finding the safest method of transport of people with preexisting disabilities and new injuries. Conclusions. The amount of evidence with respect to specific intervention of the occupational therapist’s role in a disaster situation is limited. However some evidence suggests that it could be a good means for reducing the number of medical complications and deaths of persons with preexisting disabilities. The evidences found highlight the necessity to create a multidisciplinary team addressing needs in disasters situation, in which the occupational therapist could certainly contribute.