Short Research Report

Occupational therapy: The process in acute psychiatry

Z Syed


Background. The role of the occupational therapist in the acute psychiatric setting includes individual and group assessment and intervention, discharge planning and community reintegration. However, there is a lack of understanding around specific types of assessment and interventions commonly used in this setting, as well as a lack of research into students’ understanding of the occupational therapy process in the acute psychiatric context.

Objective. To explore undergraduate occupational therapy students’ experiences of the implementation of the occupational therapy process in the acute psychiatric setting.

Methods. A qualitative approach was used. The setting included two acute psychiatric wards in Western Cape Province, South Africa. Data sources were: a focus group, semi-structured interviews with each of the 4 participants and students’ weekly reflective journals. Thematic analysis of all 3 data sources was employed.

Results. Students identified the institutional barrier of rapid discharge of clients as one of the main barriers influencing the implementation of the occupational therapy process. Discharge from the acute psychiatric wards occurred before comprehensive intervention, which influenced how they understood implementation of the occupational therapy process. Four subthemes were identified: assessment, goal setting, intervention and discharge.

Conclusion. Priority assessment methods and interventions were identified that are seen as unique to the occupational therapy profession. This study contributes towards the body of evidence in understanding students’ experiences of implementing the occupational therapy process in the acute psychiatric setting.

Author's affiliations

Z Syed, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Occupational therapy students; Acute psychiatry; Occupational therapy process; Intervention; Assessment

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2020;12(1):9-11. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2020.v12i1.1185

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-03-31
Date published: 2020-03-31

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