Objective. This preliminary study was designed to determine whether occupational therapists involve patients and their families in a goal-setting process and, if so, to identify the methods used.

Method. Thirty registered occupational therapists practicing in adult physical rehabilitation settings were audiotaped during an initial evaluation. Researchers reviewed corresponding documentation and interviewed each subject. Twenty-three patient and family involvement criteria were generated from standards developed by accreditation commissions and health care professions.

Results. Data revealed that although subjects did involve patients and families in a goal-setting process, a number of criteria were not attempted, thus much potential for involvement was unrealized. Subjects with scores above and below one standard deviation from the mean were identified to determine which patient participation criteria had the highest discrepancies. Discrepancies included (a) verbal preparation of the patient and family for initial and ongoing treatment, purposes and procedures of evaluation and treatment, and potential outcomes of treatment, (b) attempts to elicit the patient’s concerns, and (c) collaboration with the patient to establish treatment goals.

Conclusion. Factors that might have influenced subjects’ use of a patient participation approach included the application of a specific theory or technique, time constraints, patient’s age, and assumptions about the patient’s cognitive status.

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