Purpose: The Kawa (river in Japanese) model uses the metaphor of a river to view one’s life from a metaphysical perspective, with consideration given to the interaction between social and physical environments, life circumstances, assets, and liabilities. Preliminary research suggests that the Kawa model may be an effective tool for interprofessional collaboration, but studies employing the model with diverse groups of healthcare professionals have not been undertaken. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine if the Kawa model could serve as an effective collaboration tool for a diverse healthcare team within a skilled nursing facility.

Method: A pilot study using survey methodology was conducted with an interprofessional team (N=10) involving rehabilitation, nursing, administration, social work, and activities personnel. Education on the Kawa model and its components was provided to the team, followed by their participation in an interactive activity involving application of the model to a case study. An author-generated survey was administered before and after the study to elicit views about the Kawa model’s potential use as a team collaboration tool.

Results: All 10/10 participants agreed or strongly agreed the Kawa model provides a common language for interprofessional collaboration, and 9/10 felt it would be an effective tool to increase collaboration in their facility.

Conclusions: Healthcare professionals from a variety of fields must collaborate effectively for quality client care. Using a tool, such as the Kawa model, may provide a common ground for interprofessional discussions when making decisions about a client’s care. Recommendations include replication of this study with larger, more diverse healthcare teams, incorporation of an actual client and his or her family in the team, and comparison of other collaborative practices with those employing the Kawa model.

Author Bio(s)

Jennifer E. Lape, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a licensed occupational therapist in the state of Pennsylvania.

Ashley Lukose, MOT, OTR/L is a licensed occupational therapist in the state of Illinois and currently practices in skilled nursing and acute care settings.

Diana R.M. Ritter, MOT, OTR/L is a licensed occupational therapist in the state of Pennsylvania and currently practices in assisted living facilities and early intervention.

Brian D. Scaife, OTD, OTR/L is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. He is a licensed occupational therapist in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


The authors acknowledge Cheri Ionadi and Jenna Yoneda for their contributions in conducting this study, and Tyson Schrader for assistance in preparing the manuscript.




Submission Location


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