Abstract

Objectives. Recent studies have suggested that occupational therapists working with adults with physical disabilities do not use narrative reasoning in practice as much as they use procedural reasoning. This focus on procedural reasoning may be partially shaped by the occupational therapy educational process. The purpose of this analysis was to see whether one accredited occupational therapy curriculum was promoting narrative reasoning relative to its information on adult orthopedics.

Method. An accredited occupational therapy undergraduate and certificate curriculum was analyzed from both student and faculty perspectives to see what types of clinical reasoning were most emphasized relative to treatment of adults with orthopedic injuries. The student analysis, done by a senior as part of an independent study, looked at the clinical reasoning content of journal articles, an occupational therapy textbook, and occupational therapy lectures relative to adult orthopedic injuries. The faculty analysis, part of a curriculum revision process and independent of the student analysis, looked at the clinical reasoning content of all courses in the curriculum.

Results. The student and faculty analyses concurred that although narrative reasoning is taught in this curriculum, narrative reasoning concepts are not well integrated into the adult physical dysfunction course that deals with adult orthopedic injuries.

Conclusion. Occupational therapy educators may not be integrating narrative reasoning into more procedurally oriented physical dysfunction courses as fully as possible and may, therefore, be fostering procedurally oriented practice in physical dysfunction settings. Curricula evaluations, like the one described in this article, can be a mechanism for examining the types of clinical reasoning emphasized in a given curriculum for a given diagnostic group.

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