Diane L. Smith, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is Professor of Occupational Therapy and Doctoral Capstone Coordinator in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Prior to her move to MGH Institute of Health Professions, Dr. Smith was Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Missouri, and on the faculty at Saint Louis University and at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Smith has over 45 peer-reviewed publications and has presented at the state, national, and international level. Her areas of research interest are health policy and issues of empowerment for people with disabilities. Specifically, she is interested in the effect of policy on social determinants of health, especially with regard to access to employment, health care, and education.

Dr. Smith has served as associate editor for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, a research consultant for the Great Plains ADA Center, and was elected to the Roster of Fellows for the American Occupational Therapy Association in 2009.

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Department of Public Policy Studies, College of Public Service, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Master of Science, Program in Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at the Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • Health policy: specifically, disability policy related to access for persons with disabilities using an intersectionality lens.
  • Health literacy: related to health communication for vulnerable populations and assessment of health care environments.
  • Environmental sustainability, disaster preparedness and OT’s role in climate change.

Dr. Smith has published numerous papers - some titles are highlighted below. You can view a complete listing of Dr. Smith's publications on ResearchGate or in her CV. 

Examining the relationship between race and ethnicity and depression in older adults with low vision. 

Recruitment and retention of minority occupational therapy practitioners. 

Evaluation of the jail-based Occupational Therapy Transition and Integration Services program for community reentry. 

Using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) with providers in the early intervention setting: A qualitative validity testing study.

Occupational therapy and environmental sustainability:  A scoping review. 


see researchgate profile


In addition, Dr. Smith regularly presents at conferences and industry events. Please see her CV for a complete list of presentations.

Is emergency preparedness a “disaster” for people with disabilities in the US?: A role for OT at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy 18th Congress.

Food insecurity for people with disabilities in the U.S.: A role for OT addressing occupational justice and participation at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy 18th Congress.

Broadening Our Consideration of the “E”: Occupational Justice and Environmental Sustainability at the American Occupational Therapy Association National Conference International Breakfast Keynote Speaker. 

Contact Information

Awards and Honors

Summer Research Institute, 2022

Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Occupational Therapy, Award for Faculty Excellence, 2017, 2020

This award honors an Institute OT faculty member who is dedicated to enhancing the experience of occupational therapy students. This individual demonstrates exceptional commitment to students through teaching, advising, and/or mentoring, supporting student endeavors both inside and outside of the classroom.

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