University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

An Empirical Investigation Into the Role of Values in Occupational Therapy Decision-making

Thomas, Yvonne ORCID:, Seedhouse, D., Peutherer, V. and McLoughlin, M. (2019) An Empirical Investigation Into the Role of Values in Occupational Therapy Decision-making. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 82 (6). pp. 357-366. ISSN Print: 0308-0226 Online: 1477-6006

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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.
The research tested the hypothesis that occupational therapists’ responses to ethically challenging situations would reveal common values specific to the occupational therapy profession. 156 occupational therapists were asked to decide what should be done in 5 common-place yet ethically complex situations, presented as scenarios for debate.
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.
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 Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text of the online published version via the UW online library search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: healthcare, values, ethics, education, occupational therapy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Allied Health and Community
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Depositing User: Yvonne Thomas
Date Deposited: 01 May 2019 12:39
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 12:27

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