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Occupational Therapy and Multidisciplinary Working on Acute Psychiatric Wards: The Tompkins Acute Ward Study

Simpson, A., Bowers, L., Alexander, J. , Ridley, C. & Warren, J. (2005). Occupational Therapy and Multidisciplinary Working on Acute Psychiatric Wards: The Tompkins Acute Ward Study. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(12), pp. 545-552. doi: 10.1177/030802260506801203


There is limited research into occupational therapy and interprofessional working on acute psychiatric wards. This study aimed to explore relations between occupational therapists and other members of the multidisciplinary team through structured interviews with 47 staff on 14 acute psychiatric wards.

The study found that occupational therapists provided assessments, group activities and individual therapeutic work, with the assessment and development of activities of daily living being central. Linking patients with community resources in preparation for discharge was also important. Severity of illness among patients and speed of discharge were barriers to effective input. Nurses and psychiatrists appreciated occupational therapy input but rarely the breadth of the role. Multidisciplinary relations were generally positive, although some ward teams were disinclined to include occupational therapists in communications and decision making. The occupational therapists appreciated their professional knowledge and opinion being respected and considered.

The study concluded that occupational therapists play an important if often misunderstood role on acute psychiatric wards, but that their involvement could be significantly increased through the employment of more experienced occupational therapists and the provision of interprofessional education. Further research is required to explore the facilities, resources and support required to maximise occupational therapy input and identify areas for increased interprofessional working.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2005
Subjects: R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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