Objective.The purpose of this study was to describe changes of health status as perceived by clients with hand or wrist impairments who received rehabilitation in acute, orthopedic outpatient facilities from occupational therapy or physical therapy personnel.

Method.One thousand three hundred ninety-nine adults with wrist (n = 692) or hand (n = 707) impairments who were treated between July 1996 and June 1997 were selected from the Focus On Therapeutic Outcomes, Inc. (FOTO) national rehabilitation database. Each client completed a health status questionnaire on intake and discharge. Data consisted of number of outpatient visits, duration of treatment episode, and health status scores for six functional scales. Measures of intensity, global health status, global utilization, and client satisfaction were calculated. Outcomes were evaluated across occupational therapists and physical therapists.

Results.Clients perceived improvement (p < .05) in their health status over the course of therapy. Number of visits and measures of health status and client satisfaction were similar across type of therapist. Episode duration was longer (p < .05) and intensity was less (p < .05) for clients seen by occupational therapists.

Conclusion.Clients receiving rehabilitation in acute orthopedic outpatient centers perceived improvement in their functional abilities and health and well-being (global health status and individual functional scales) over the time during which treatment was provided. Results confirm the responsiveness of the outcomes instrument to clinical change in the clients’ perception of their health status over the course of therapy and support the use of health status as a measure of clinical outcome.

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