OBJECTIVE. The purpose of this study was to explore current conceptualizations of clinical reasoning in occupational therapy.
METHOD. Using a head-mounted video camera and debriefing interviews following therapy sessions, clinical reasoning data were collected from 13 experienced occupational therapists working in physical rehabilitation. The data were collected and analyzed within a focused ethnographic framework.
FINDINGS. Mattingly and Fleming's (1994) classification of clinical reasoning encompassed most of the thinking processes revealed in the therapists’ debriefing interviews. Therapists also used aspects of pragmatic reasoning (Schell & Cervero, 1993). Additionally, within the forms of procedural, interactive, conditional, and pragmatic reasoning, a new form of “generalization reasoning” is proposed in which therapists draw on past experience or knowledge to assist them in making sense of a current situation or client circumstance.
CONCLUSION. This research builds upon previous classification systems to support the categories of narrative, procedural, interactive, conditional, pragmatic (practice context), and generalization reasoning to explain how occupational therapists think in action. Further research is required to explore this emerging description of clinical reasoning.