Wendy J. Coster, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Dr. Coster is Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy, Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston as well as Director, Behavior and Health Program, and Director, Patient/Clinic Reported Outcomes Core, Boston Rehabilitation Outcomes Center. Dr. Coster is a recipient of the AOTF A. Jean Ayres Award. In 2007, she received the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship, AOTA's highest academic honor. Currently, Dr. Coster is chair of the AOTF Scientific Advisory Council. She was named one of the 100 Influential People in Occupational Therapy by AOTA.
Dr. Coster's description of her scholarly, research and/or practice interests from The Sargent College website: (Retrieved on January 29, 2015 from http://www.bu.edu/sargent/profile/wendy-coster/.)
The primary focus of my research program is the development of conceptually grounded, psychometrically sound measures of activity, participation, and environment. My overarching concern is to create measures for the field of rehabilitation that appropriately reflect individuals' ability to engage in activities and participate in situations that are important for their satisfaction and well-being. Some of these measures are directed to practice, i.e. to provide assessment that gather information on the issues of greatest relevance to consumers. Others are designed to support outcomes measurement purposes (either research or program evaluation). Although my primary clinical work has been with children, my work extends to adult populations as well. The long term goal of this work is the development of a series of measures that help to advance rehabilitation science and support best practice.
Q and A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Organized, patient, a listener.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope that my work enables others to look at people with disabilities and to see what they can do and to think creatively about how to enable meaningful participation.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Network! You never know when one of those connections turns out to be the key that opens a new door for you.
Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
Understanding more about the cognitive and emotional underpinnings of everyday life activities.
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
Mentors taught me "the ropes" - the things you need to do to build a successful career that you don't learn in courses or by reading books.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
I love walking in the woods with my dogs, in all seasons - although not in the rain.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
I never expected to find measurement so fascinating and I've been gratified to see the measures I've worked on really change both practice and research.
Chang, FH, Coster, WJ & Helfrich, CA. (2013). Community participation measures for people with disabilities: a systematic review of content from an international classification of functioning, disability and health perspective. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94(4):771-781.
Chang, FH, Helfrich, CA & Coster, WJ. (2013). Psychometric properties of the Practical Skills Test (PST). The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, (2), 246-253.
Coster, WJ. (2013). Making the best match: Selecting outcome measures for clinical trials and outcome studies. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, (2), 162-170.
Coster, WJ. (2008). Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture: Embracing ambiguity: facing the challenge of measurement. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 743-752.