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Occupational therapy hand assessment practices : cause for concern?

De Klerk, Susan ; Buchanan, Helen ; Pretorius, Blanche (2015-08)

CITATION: De Klerk, S., Buchanan, H. & Pretorius, B. 2015. Occupational therapy hand assessment practices : cause for concern? South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 45(2):43 - 50, doi:10.17159/2310-3833/2015/v45n2a7.

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Introduction: Assessment is critical for measuring improvement, or lack thereof, and demonstrating the outcome of intervention. In response to the lack of research in this area, this study aimed to determine the assessment practices of occupational therapists working with clients with hand conditions. Methods: A quantitative cross sectional survey design was used. A convenience sample of occupational therapists was recruited from five provinces. Respondents completed a questionnaire developed for the study that comprised demographic information, assessments used, frequency of use and factors influencing assessment choice. Data were analysed with Statistica version 11. Results: Eighty-one respondents (n=114) completed questionnaires representing a 71% response rate. Goniometry (84.0%), manual muscle testing (76.5%) and testing for flexor tendon function (76.3%) were used most frequently. The most common reasons for not using assessments were lack of availability and unfamiliarity. Conclusion: It is of concern that the assessment practices of participants in this study focussed primarily on the assessment of body function and structure with few therapists using activity and participation measures. This could seriously limit the evidence needed to verify the outcomes achieved through occupational therapy intervention in the treatment of hand conditions.

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