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Keywords:

  • nonparticipant;
  • observation;
  • occupational therapists;
  • nurses;
  • comparison;
  • morning care;
  • Bobath;
  • stroke rehabilitation

Observing washing and dressing of stroke patients: nursing intervention compared with occupational therapists. What is the difference?

This study sought to compare the interventions of qualified nurses with those of occupational therapists during morning care with the same population of stroke patients. Nonparticipant structured observation was used to identify the activities and interventions carried out by each of the two groups in a naturalistic care setting. Approval for the study was granted by the local ethics committee. In order to allow comparison between pairs, staff–patient interactions during morning care (n=10) were observed by a single researcher, firstly, with an occupational therapist and within 3 days of this, with a nurse. Twenty observation sessions were recorded in total during which time the activities, contacts and interactions were coded and recorded at 20-second intervals on a standard proforma. Analysis was undertaken using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) for windows. The results showed that occupational therapists used ‘prompting and instructing’ commands more than nurses and used facilitation techniques significantly more (P=0·0283). ‘Supervision’ interactions were preferred by nurses with 42·1% of their time spent performing this activity compared with 25·1% for occupational therapists. These results are limited to the group under observation. It is suggested that the reasons for the observed differences in intervention styles used by occupational therapists and nurses may be attributed to the approach taken to the assessment and treatment of stroke patients. This difference might be attributed to a lack of preparation for specialist neurological/neurovascular practices of nurses working in the field of stroke rehabilitation.