Before 1970, most assessments administered by occupational therapists were informal and nonstandardized. Since the 1970s, the use of scientifically sound instruments has increased. One such standardized assessment, the Bay Area Functional Performance Evaluation (BaFPE), was developed to measure the functional performance of psychiatric clients. This study was designed to explore the use of a revised version of BaFPE as an example of standardized assessment in occupational therapy.
The BaFPE was selected as an example of an assessment extensively used in psychiatric occupational therapy practice. A qualitative study that used in depth semistructured interviews was conducted with a convenience sample of occupational therapists.
The occupational therapists who were interviewed described and explained making several adaptations and modifications to the recommended administration and scoring of the BaFPE. An analysis of the interview data suggested that standardized assessments are valued as indicators of professional status. However, the interview responses also suggested that the demands of test standardization were incongruent with the values that guide occupational therapy practice.
The findings of this study suggest that the future development and use of standardized instruments should be consistent with the values of the profession. In particular, assessments that recognize the diverse nature and needs of individual clients are required.