Engagement in Play Activities as a Means for Youth in Detention to Acquire Life Skills

Chi Kwan Shea, Man Hong Andrew Siu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study describes how occupational therapists in a community-based programme, Occupational Therapy Training Program (OTTP), use play activities to facilitate the acquisition of life skills by youth in detention. This pilot study explored the extent of engagement of male and female inmates aged 14 to 18 years old in structured play activities on topics such as interpersonal relationships, self-awareness, cultural celebrations and the transition to community. Retrospective analysis of data collected from surveys using the Engagement in OTTP Activities Questionnaire (EOAQ), completed by youth participants at the end of each group session, was used to measure the extent of occupational engagement. Worksheets and artworks produced by OTTP participants during those group sessions were also analysed. The participants reported very high engagement in OTTP. Engagement scores for male participants were higher than those for female participants, and male and female participants had higher engagement scores for different activities. Over 90% of the worksheets and artworks were found to be complete and relevant to the topic of the session. Play activities could be an appropriate way for occupational therapists to encourage youth in detention to acquire life skills. Demographic information and the actual number of participants are unknown because of how the existing data were collected. Future studies examining the potential gender-related preferences for specific topics deserve further investigation as well as research comparing the youth's engagement in OTTP interventions using play activities to other group interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
JournalOccupational Therapy International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • forensic occupational therapy
  • life skills
  • occupational engagement
  • play activities
  • youth in detention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy


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