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Title: Occupational therapists' judgement of referral priorities : expertise and training
Author: Harries, Priscilla Ann
ISNI:       0000 0001 2451 9307
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2004
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The British government currently requires mental health services to be targeted at the most needy (Department of Health, 1999). For occupational therapy services, where service demand far exceeds service availability, skill in referral prioritisation is essential. The studies in this thesis describe how experienced occupational therapists’ referral prioritisation policies were used to successfully educate novices. 40 British occupational therapists’ referral prioritisation policies were modelled using judgement analysis. Individuals’ prioritisation decisions were regressed onto 90 referral scenarios to statistically model how referral information had been used. It was found that the reason for referral, history of violence and diagnosis were most important. The occupational therapists’ capacity for self-insight into their policies was also examined by comparing statistically modelled policies derived from their behaviour with their subjective view of their cue use. Self-insight was found to be moderate (mean r = 0.61). A Ward’s cluster analysis was used on the statistically modelled policies to identify if subgroups of therapists had differing referral prioritisation policies. Four clusters were found. They differed according to several factors including the percentage of role dedicated to specialist occupational therapy rather than generic work. The policies that led to more of an occupational therapy role were found to give particular importance to the reason for referral and the client’s diagnosis. The occupational therapy professional body supports this latter method of working as it has recommended that occupational therapists should use their specialist skills to ensure clients’ needs are met effectively. Therefore the policies that focussed on clients’ occupational functioning were used to train the novices. Thirty-seven students were asked to prioritise a set of referrals before and after being shown graphical and descriptive representations of the policies. Students gained statistically significant improvements in prioritisation. Students’ pre-training policies were found to be those of generic therapists; a method of working that has been found to be leading to reduced work satisfaction and burnout (Craik et al.1998b). The training is therefore needed to ensure undergraduate occupational therapy students develop effective referral prioritisation skills. This will help to ensure that clients’ needs are met most effectively and work stress is reduced.
Supervisor: Gilhooly, K. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Clinical reasoning ; Decision making ; Clinical ; Mental health