History of the COPM

In the early 1980s, Health Canada and the Canadian Occupational Therapists (CAOT) developed quality assurance guidelines for the practice of occupational therapy in Canada. As part of this work, in 1988, the National Health Research Development Program and the Canadian Occupational Therapy Foundation jointly funded a project to develop an outcome measure of occupational performance.

The outcome measure to be developed was to:

  • focus on performance in self-care, productivity, and leisure as the primary outcome;
  • consider the client’s environment, developmental stage, life roles, and motivation;
  • be sensitive to clinical change relevant to occupational therapy goals;
  • not be diagnosis specific;
  • be usable in terms of format, time, ease of scoring, client acceptability, and be able to be scored numerically;
  • incorporate measurement properties of reliability, responsiveness, and validity.

From this research, the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) was developed. The COPM uses a unique, individualized approach to enable persons to identify everyday activities that they wanted, needed, or were expected to do but were having challenges in doing. The COPM measures change in performance and satisfaction in these activities over time.

The first edition of the COPM was published by CAOT in 1991. Since that time, there have been five editions of the COPM measure and manual. The latest is the 5th edition-revised. The measure has been translated into 36 languages and is used in over 40 countries. Over 500 articles have been published featuring the COPM.