An empirical investigation into the role of values in occupational therapy decision-making

Thomas, Yvonne, Seedhouse, David, Peutherer, Vanessa, and Loughlin, Michael (2019) An empirical investigation into the role of values in occupational therapy decision-making. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 82 (6). pp. 357-366.

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Introduction: The importance of values in occupational therapy is generally agreed; however, there is no consensus about their nature or their influence on practice. It is widely assumed that occupational therapists hold and act on a body of shared values, yet there is a lack of evidence to support this.

Method: The research tested the hypothesis that occupational therapists' responses to ethically challenging situations would reveal common values specific to the occupational therapy profession. A total of 156 occupational therapists were asked to decide what should be done in five common-place yet ethically complex situations, presented as scenarios for debate.

Results: The results show that while most occupational therapists share very general values, they frequently disagree about what to do in practice situations, often justifying their choices with different and sometimes conflicting specific values. In some cases, the same respondents espouse contradictory values in similar situations.

Conclusion: The extensive literature about decision-making - together with the study's results - confirm that when occupational therapists make decisions, they draw on multiple factors, consciously and unconsciously. These factors vary between individuals. Value judgements are one part only of a complex process which includes personal experience, intuition, social influences, culture, psychological influences and relationships with both colleagues and clients.

Item ID: 60011
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1477-6006
Keywords: healthcare, values, ethics, education, occupational therapy
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2019.
Funders: Royal College of Occupational Therapists
Projects and Grants: UKOTRF grant
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2019 07:31
FoR Codes: 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4201 Allied health and rehabilitation science > 420104 Occupational therapy @ 100%
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