Clinical Reasoning: How do Pragmatic Reasoning, Worldview and Client-Centredness Fit?

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Using both clinical reasoning data and literature from the past 20 years, this paper sought to examine the relationship between client-centred practice and clinical reasoning, to explore the concept of pragmatic reasoning and to present a diagrammatic conceptualisation of our knowledge of clinical reasoning in occupational therapy.

The clinical reasoning literature published between 1982 and 2001 was reviewed and this information was combined with the findings from a study which used a head-mounted video camera to collect data and then explore the clinical reasoning of 13 experienced occupational therapists. The data were collected and analysed within a focused ethnographic framework.

The findings showed that clinical reasoning occurred in the context of client-centred practice, but that a reciprocal relationship appeared to exist between client-centred practice and interactive reasoning. It also appeared that pragmatic reasoning was related only to the therapist's practice context and that all forms of reasoning were influenced by the therapist's worldview. A diagram was developed to depict this current understanding of the modes of clinical reasoning.

While clinical reasoning has been described as the guiding force in a therapeutic practice, we are only just beginning to understand the nature of reasoning and reflection and how clinicians think. Further research is required to build and test the emerging theory of clinical reasoning in occupational therapy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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