Challenges to Measuring Outcomes in Occupational Therapy: a Qualitative Focus Group Study

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The aim of this study was to explore the process used by occupational therapists to measure the effect of their interventions. A second aim was to explore the challenges associated with this process. Stroke rehabilitation was chosen as the focus for the study.

This qualitative study was conducted in Sydney, Australia. Ten occupational therapists from both hospital and community-based services participated in one of three focus groups. The data were analysed using constant comparison techniques.

The participants struggled when describing the process used to measure outcomes. They focused more on the challenges to measuring outcomes, which were described as focusing on occupation, deconstructing occupation and lacking knowledge, skills and assistance.

The participants in this study had difficulty in articulating and setting measurable goals linked to interventions. As a result, they could not easily select appropriate outcome measures. Education is needed to help such occupational therapists to develop the required skills and to begin to measure clinical outcomes. Further research should determine if similar experiences and challenges are faced in other areas of practice and by occupational therapists in other countries.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 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

    Submissions can be made at

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

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