Using Institute of Medicine Reports To Inform Practice (07-09-07)
Working inside the Beltway—the way-too-crowded band of highway circling Washington, DC, and its centers of government, science and art—American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) staff are familiar with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), located a 5-minute drive from AOTA's headquarters. Most of us in the profession are familiar with the NIH as the steward of medical and behavioral research in the U.S. However, although many have also heard of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the common misconception is that it's part of the NIH. Most are not familiar with the mission and function of the IOM and how its highly respected reports can be useful to inform occupational therapy practice.
The IOM is a separate entity, apart from the NIH. It was established by Congressional charter in 1970 and is one of four organizations that make up the U.S. National Academies (the others are the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, and the National Academy of Engineering). These are private, nongovernmental organizations and do not receive direct federal appropriations for their work, as do institutes in the NIH. Instead, the IOM receives funds from its own foundation, federal agencies, state governments, and private foundations.
The mission of the IOM is to purposefully work outside the framework of the direct federal appropriation system and provide the nation with independent guidance on issues related to the health of the American people. Independent guidance is ensured by an assembly of unpaid experts who volunteer to work in groups to provide evidence-based information about health and health-related topics and make recommendations to policymakers, professionals, and consumers.
Each IOM report goes through a rigorous and formal peer review process that requires findings and recommendations to be evidence based whenever possible, and noted as expert opinion when it is not possible. As a result, IOM reports are highly respected and valued in the health community because they provide both state-of-the-art evidence and expert opinion.
Each year, more than 40 IOM reports are produced and made available for purchase on the IOM Web site (www.iom.edu). When visiting the Web site consider signing up for IOM News, the free, online bimonthly newsletter that announces new reports and informs subscribers about upcoming forums and events.
The IOM reports are organized by the year published and by topic. Of special interest to occupational therapy practitioners are reports on aging, child health, education, mental health, the workplace, and public health and prevention. Occupational therapy–relevant IOM reports and podcasts include the following:
- The Future of Disability in America
- Preventing Teen Motor Crashes: Contributions From the Behavioral and Social Sciences
- Adequacy of Evidence for Physical Activity Guideline Development: Workshop Summary
- Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
- Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Diagnosis and Assessment
- Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
- Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate
- Spinal Cord Injury: Progress, Promise, and Priorities
- Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and Training Needs for the Next Decade's Occupational Safety and Health Personnel
- Enabling America (Disability Prevention)
- Disability in America: Toward a National Agenda for Prevention
Web casts and/or slide presentations from the IOM Annual Meetings can be downloaded from the site and include the following topics of interest to occupational therapy practitioners:
- Neurons to Neighborhood to Nation: Science and Public Policy To Improve Mental Health
- Information Technology: Its Strategic Role in Biology, Medicine, and Health
- Quality of Health and Health Care
Jessica Scheer, PhD, is a medical anthropologistand research professor at the School of PublicHealth and Health Services at George Washing-ton University in Washington, DC. She has served as a consultant with AOTA's Evidence-Based Practice Project since 1998.
Scheer, J. (2007). Evidence Perks: Using Institute of Medicine reports to inform practice [Electronic version]. OT Practice, 12(12), 10.
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