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A Standard Terminology for Occupational Therapy

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A standard terminology is the authorised system of words and phrases used in a definite sense within a science or subject. The need for a standard terminology for occupational therapy in the United Kingdom was identified in relation to three projects: the Garner Project (College of Occupational Therapists 1999), the Systematised Nomenclature of Human and Veterinary Medicine – Clinical Terms (SNOMED-CT) and Occupational Therapy Defined as a Complex Intervention (Creek 2003).

In May 2004, the College of Occupational Therapists commissioned the development of a standard terminology for occupational therapy, to include definitions of between 5 and 12 key terms plus the term occupational therapy. Two sources of data were used: occupational therapy literature and a panel of expert practitioners. The primary literature sources were the College of Occupational Therapists' publications, the European Network of Occupational Therapists in Higher Education's website and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists' website. A Delphi approach was chosen as an appropriate method for obtaining consensus on the definitions among 42 expert occupational therapists.

It was found that the Delphi approach, whilst appropriate for producing a set of six definitions of key terms, failed to produce a single definition of occupational therapy. Instead of the number of possible definitions decreasing in each round, it expanded as panel members struggled to find a way of capturing the complexity of occupational therapy within a short definition.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 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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