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Factors Influencing Occupational Therapists' Clinical Decision Making for Clients with Upper Limb Performance Dysfunction following Brain Injury

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Occupational therapists make clinical decisions to help clients with upper limb performance dysfunction following brain injury to achieve their goals. Although occupational therapy services have traditionally been separated for paediatric and adult populations, it has been proposed that a common process can be used to make clinical decisions for children and adults with upper limb performance dysfunction following brain injury.

This study compared the factors that influenced the clinical decisions of experienced occupational therapists who worked with either children or adults with upper limb performance dysfunction after brain injury to determine if the clinical decision-making process was common for all clients with brain injury. Eleven occupational therapists with experience in working with clients with brain injury participated in two focus groups. Six had experience in working with children and five in working with adults. The discussions were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed using NUD*IST Version 4 data management software.

The intrinsic or client-related factors identified as influencing clinical decision making were the client's condition, personal attributes and occupational performance needs. The extrinsic factors were related both to the therapist (knowledge of 'feel', experience, treatment preferences, confidence and personal convictions and beliefs) and to the environment (context of service provision and organisational culture and constraints). The consistency in the factors identified across different caseloads appeared to indicate that a common protocol would be suitable for guiding clinical decision making for both children and adults with varying patterns and intensity of upper limb performance dysfunction. Further research is needed to determine the clinical usefulness of such a protocol and the consistency of client outcomes following its use.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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 http://www.cot.co.uk/british-journal-bjot/british-journal-occupational-therapy

    Submissions can be made at http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/bjot

    The 2012 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 1.096.

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