Occupational therapists frequently use their knowledge of occupation to add meaning and purpose to therapeutic tasks. This study investigated the effects of an attempt to add meaning to a particular occupational situation—a design copy task. Added meaning was given to the design copy task through the use of stimulus figures that were representational of familiar objects—an arrow, a house, and a face. The control condition consisted of three nonrepresentational figures composed of the same geometric shapes, in the same locations on the paper as the representational figures, but combined differently. The order of presentation was controlled for. The study used 30 elderly subjects (22 women and 8 men) from six nursing homes. The accuracy of the drawings was measured by a blind rater using graph overlays and predetermined rules of scoring. A two-way analysis of variance with one repeated measure (Order × Type of Figure) indicated significant differences at the .01 level between the representational and nonrepresentational figures. This study demonstrates how added meaning can enhance performance on a visuomotor task in a vulnerable population.

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