The Health Services Research Grant program is made possible through a generous grant from

Health Services Research Grant Program

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) awards Health Services Research Grants as part of its mission to advance the science of occupational therapy to support people's full participation in meaningful life activities.

Health Services Research (HSR) examines how people get access to health care, how and what care is delivered, the cost of that care, and what happens to patients as a result of receiving or not receiving care.  Specifically, HSR is a multidisciplinary field that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and costs of health care, and ultimately, the health and well-being of health care consumers. 

Health Services Research has a high value to both individuals and society. Past research has yielded information on intervention trends and risk factors, outcome of treatments, and patterns of care.  It has established new health policies, led to significant discoveries, and to the development of new therapies.

For All of our Research Grant Programs:

We are actively soliciting grant applications that examine racial, social, and health inequities and injustices and promote social justice. Grant applicants are now asked to address how they will involve participants from underrepresented populations. Plans for the inclusion of women and minorities must be included and scientifically justified within the application or proposal. Applications and proposals should  describe the composition of the proposed study population in terms of sex/gender and racial/ethnic groups, and provide a rationale for selection of such subjects. Any exclusions based on sex/gender or race/ethnicity must include a rationale and justification based on a scientific or ethical basis. Investigators should also plan for appropriate outreach programs and activities to recruit and retain the proposed study population consistent with the purposes of the research project.

Two Options

HSR Pilot Study Option #1: 

Includes pilot studies examining an occupational therapy-related question using data from administrative or healthcare dataset(s) (e.g. Medicare Administrative data, Health System Electronic Medical records).  
Funding Available: $100,000 per grant. These studies may run up to 2 years. 

HSR Pilot Study Option #2: 

Includes pilot studies examining a rehabilitation question using data from publicly available datasets (e.g., Health and Retirement Survey, National Health and Aging Trends Study, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, LTCFocus).  
Funding Available: $50,000 per grant. These studies may run up to 1 year.  

Eligibility Criteria

General Personal Criteria:

  • The PI has a terminal research degree (PhD, ScD) or has an OTD or EdD with advanced research training (e.g., completion of a post degree research fellowship).  
  • The PI is a credentialed occupational therapist with a full-time faculty position appointment or an equivalent research position at the time of application OR a non-OT investigator with a primary academic appointment in an occupational therapy department.
  • The PI is employed by a U.S. domestic, public or private, non-profit organization/institution that is eligible to receive Foundation research grants and will provide assurance of its accountability and support for the project.  
  • The PI is a U.S. citizen or non-citizen national of the United States admitted for permanent residence OR applied for permanent residence. (For non-citizens, the applicant organization must have policies in place to determine whether residence status or visa status will allow completion of the research.) 

The AOTF HSR is ideally targeted to principal investigators who do not currently have substantial extramural research awards as an independent principal investigator (e.g., R01, PCORI, Research Program Project Grant, Veterans Administration Merit Award, Field-Initiated Project). Typically, the principal investigator (PI) will have a funding history associated with early stage, emerging, or early midcareer investigators that may include small research grants and training-related or mentored career awards.

AOTF will give preferential consideration to applications that utilize common data elements and include in their grant applications where appropriate. NIH encourages the use of common data elements (CDEs) in clinical research, patient registries, and other human subject research in order to improve data quality and opportunities for comparison and combination of data from multiple studies and with electronic health records. 

The Health Services Research grant program receives major funding from The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®). 

2024 Grant Timeline: 


Application Stage

August 2023

  • RFA and award guidelines are posted on AOTF website.
  • Review the research priorities, objectives, approaches, and eligibility criteria found in the RFA.
  • Review award guidelines.
  • Develop the initial framework for a Letter of Intent and applications.
August, 14, 2023 Online Submission for Letter of Intent opens
September, 29, 2023 Letter of Intent deadline 11:59 p.m. ET.
October 16, 2023 Invitations to submit an Application are extended to principal investigators who meet eligibility criteria and whose LOI is accepted by AOTF. Invitees can begin application.
December 1, 2023 Applications deadline for grants full application at 11:59 p.m. ET.
March 2024 Summary statements and award notifications are sent to applicants.

Request for Application (RFA) 

Letter of Intent: Opens Aug. 14, 2023


Full Applications: Opens Oct. 16, 2023!

See new OT research priorities.

Questions: Contact the AOTF at research@aotf.org.  Please note, it may take a few days for a reply.

View Health Services Research Grant Recipients