Exploring stroke survivors’ experiences and understandings of occupational therapy
Mikhala Hoffmann, Louise Gustafsson & Amelia Di Tommaso
Background: Occupational therapists view people with stroke as occupational beings who may experience occupational issues. Concurrently, occupational therapy practice is guided by research evidence that supports predominantly impairment-based practices. There has been limited exploration of how people with stroke experience and understand occupational therapy in the context of the potential tension between the professional philosophy and the research-based evidence.
Aims/objective: To explore the experience and understanding of occupational therapy with stroke survivors.
Materials and Methods: Interpretative phenomenology guided semi-structured interviews with nine participants from five states across Australia.
Results: Three themes emerged: Understanding of occupational therapy grows by ‘doing’ outlines how participants understood occupational therapy based on their individual experiences over time; Personal factors influence the experience highlights how participants had diverse expectations for recovery that influenced their occupational therapy experience. Context shapes occupational therapy experience identified that the therapeutic relationship and context of occupational therapy were important factors in shaping experiences.
Conclusion: Both impairment-based and occupation-based therapy were considered valuable aspects of occupational therapy, representing the proposed tension between the professional philosophy and research-based evidence. Occupation-based and client-centred practice was more often experienced in the outpatient setting, with challenges described for both within the inpatient setting.