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Mapping the scope of occupational therapy practice in palliative care: A European Association for Palliative Care cross-sectional survey.

Palliative Medicine (2018) pp 960-968

Background: Occupational therapists play an integral role in the care of people with life-limiting illnesses. However, little is knownabout the scope of occupational therapy service provision in palliative care across Europe and factors influencing service delivery.

Aim: This study aimed to map the scope of occupational therapy palliative care interventions across Europe and to explore occupational therapists’ perceptions of opportunities and challenges when delivering and developing palliative care services.

Design: A 49-item online cross-sectional survey comprised of fixed and free text responses was securely hosted via the European Association for Palliative Care website. Survey design, content and recruitment processes were reviewed and formally approved by the European Association for Palliative Care Board of Directors. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were used to analyse data.

Setting/respondents: Respondents were European occupational therapists whose caseload included palliative care recipients (full-time or part-time).

Results: In total, 237 valid responses were analysed. Findings demonstrated a consistency in occupational therapy practice in palliative care between European countries. Clinician time was prioritised towards indirect patient care, with limited involvement in service development, leadership and research. A need for undergraduate and postgraduate education was identified. Organisational expectations and understanding of the scope of the occupational therapy role constrain the delivery of services to support patients and carers.

Conclusion: Further development of occupational therapy in palliative care, particularly capacity building in leadership and research activities, is warranted. There is a need for continuing education and awareness raising of the role of occupational therapy in palliative care.

Keywords: Occupational therapy, palliative care, surveys and questionnaires

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