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Experiences of engagement in occupations and assertive outreach services

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Aim: The purpose of this study was to describe the experience and meaning of engagement for staff and clients of assertive outreach teams.

Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was selected for its flexibility and transparency. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews from a sample of five client and five staff participants (n = 10). The interviews were analysed idiographically, inductively and interrogatively.

Findings: Four themes identified by both staff and client participants emerged: engagement as an interpersonal relationship, engagement in and through time, enabling and disabling factors and engagement in occupation. In addition, clients developed a theme around engagement as a means to self-actualisation. Staff also raised a specific theme around the role of engagement in mental health services.

Conclusion: Staff and clients experienced engagement in broadly similar ways, but with differing emphases. Although all participants described it as both an invisible 'means' and a visible 'end', the staff related engagement only to mental health services whereas the clients experienced it in the context of both mental health services and occupations.

Relevance: This study is relevant to all occupational therapists who work with people experiencing mental health problems.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4276/030802209X12577616538636

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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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