Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Cherie Graves


Disabled Persons; Occupational Therapy; Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care); Rehabilitation Centers


Background: The aim of this study is to evaluate occupational therapists’ (OTs) perceptions and use of informal observation and formal assessments in order to understand if differences exist between acute care and non-acute care occupational therapy (OT) adult physical disability settings. Non-acute settings may include but are not limited to home health, inpatient rehabilitation, transitional care, outpatient rehabilitation, and long term care.

Methods: Study design involved a nonexperimental survey. Qualtrics software was utilized to disseminate the survey across a five-state region to the population under study. Response rate included 88 OTs who answered consistently to the questions analyzed. Data analyses utilizing Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Statistics 23 was then conducted.

Findings: OTs in both types of settings utilize informal observations more often compared to formal assessments. However, the acute care setting was found to have used informal assessments 17% more of the time. A positive relationship exists between increasing years of experience and feelings of validity and ease of use of informal observations. Trends were recognized in the number of years spent in OT practice regarding use of assessments.

Conclusion: Findings enhance understanding of OT practice in acute care as compared to other adult physical disability settings in regards to the use of assessments. Implications involve the incorporation of teaching concepts of informal observations to the OT curriculum as well as enhancing future practitioners’ understandings of validity and reliability. The findings highlight the need for the development of formal assessments that consider the constraints of practice environments in order to enable their use. Implications for future study involve further investigation on the impact of years of experience in assessment use as well as additional studies to enhance understanding of occupational therapy in acute care.