Importance: Despite mounting evidence for the management of various health care conditions, the uptake of scientific evidence in occupational therapy is often suboptimal. Although positive attitudes and self-efficacy are key to evidence-based practices (EBPs), how one becomes an evidence-based practitioner, and how expertise in EBP manifests in practice, remains unclear.
Objective: To describe how expert evidence-based practitioners conceptualize and enact their expertise in stroke rehabilitation.
Design: Qualitative interpretive descriptive study using in-depth semistructured interviews with eight occupational therapists identified as expert evidence-based practitioners in a previous study. Transcripts were analyzed using an inductive thematic content analysis, and emergent themes were identified.
Settings: Rehabilitation settings across Canada.
Results: Six overarching themes emerged: (1) relying on personal attributes to engage in practice improvement, (2) acting on factors that motivate and trigger EBP, (3) achieving better outcomes because of engagement in EBP, (4) using an adaptive decision-making process, (5) participating in professional activities that contribute to practice improvement, and (6) working in a practice area with a large body of evidence.
Conclusions and Relevance: Expertise in stroke rehabilitation EBP appears to be a function of several personal attributes and habits of mind in addition to being influenced by a commitment to client-centered practice. Expertise requires a combination of deliberate effort and motivation to improve client outcomes, always in a context conducive to reflection, adaptation, and openness to innovation. Experts who model these traits and articulate the processes used to develop their expertise can be viewed as promising educational and continuing professional development resources.
What This Article Adds: Expert evidence-based occupational therapists develop their expertise in this domain through commitment to client-centered practice, efforts toward honing this aspect of practice, and a willingness to innovate and adapt to challenging situations.