The occupational performance of marginalised young people following a prescribed equine-assisted learning programme

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


The problem: The Royal College of Occupational
Therapists (RCOT) (2019) promotes the use of social
prescriptions and Shevlin (2018) suggests a shortage
of appropriate social prescriptions within Northern
Ireland (NI), stating this could be a reason for higher
antidepressant prescription rates.
This study investigated the use of an equine-assisted
learning programme (GAITS) on the occupational
performance of 20 young people. The study aimed
to analyse the functional benefits and potential of the
programme as an appropriate social prescription.
Design and methods: Twenty young people living in
NI between the ages of 16 and 30 and who identified
as marginalised as a result of mental ill health were
recruited via self-referral. Participants completed a 20-
week equine-assisted learning programme. The Model
of Human Occupation Screening Tool (MOHOST)
version 2.0 (Parkinson et al 2006) was used to assess
occupational functioning, and changes in pre and postintervention scores were explored and evaluated using
descriptive analysis.
Results discussion: Analysis showed increases in the
five concepts of the MOHOST, with the environment
proving to be supportive throughout.
Conclusion: This study highlighted the functional
benefits of equine interactions within occupational
therapy practice and the link to social prescribing.
Theory: A further analysis of the data is ongoing via
the SPSS platform.
Impact/Implications: This study has drawn attention
to the functional benefits of equine-assisted learning.
It was limited by location, numbers, gender, diagnosis
and age. A larger blinded study would provide further
evidence for social prescriptions to underused equine
centres within NI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44
Number of pages1
JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number8S
Early online date20 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Aug 2022
EventRoyal College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference - Virtual
Duration: 14 Jun 202215 Jun 2022


  • Advancing practice
  • Equine assisted learning
  • Mental Health
  • Third sector/charity/ volunteers


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