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Occupational therapy and emergency departments: A critical review of the literature

James, Kirstin; Jones, Derek; Kempenaar, Larissa; Preston, Jenny; Kerr, Susan


Kirstin James

Derek Jones

Larissa Kempenaar

Jenny Preston

Susan Kerr


IntroductionOccupational therapy is emerging as a profession within the context of emergency care, specifically within emergency departments. Emerging professional practice should be underpinned by an evidence base supported by research. As such, this critical review examines, analyses and summarises published and unpublished research concerning occupational therapy in Emergency Departments in order to support emerging practice.MethodResearch evidence was sought from database platforms, the Internet and grey sources by searching using key words and search terms. Critical analysis of each piece of evidence was undertaken and the analyses were synthesised into a critical review of the literature.ResultsTwenty-three potentially relevant papers were found, 16 met the criteria for further inclusion and seven were critically analysed. The quality of the papers varied and often lacked sufficient methodological detail for robust review. Although not all study sample sizes were small, variable methodological quality means findings can only be taken into professional practice with caution.ConclusionBased on current evidence, there can only be a limited understanding of occupational therapy, including practice models and efficacy, within emergency departments at this time. There is a need for large-scale, well-designed research studies of occupational therapy within emergency departments.


James, K., Jones, D., Kempenaar, L., Preston, J., & Kerr, S. (2016). Occupational therapy and emergency departments: A critical review of the literature. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(8), 459-466.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 21, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 16, 2016
Publication Date Aug 1, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 3, 2018
Journal British Journal of Occupational Therapy
Print ISSN 0308-0226
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 79
Issue 8
Pages 459-466
Keywords occupational therapy, hospital emergency service, accident and emergency department, A&E, emerging practice
Public URL

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