Psychosocial factors addressed by occupational therapists in hand therapy: A mixed-methods study

Melinda B. Kurrus, Vanessa D. Jewell, Steven Gerardi, Michael Gerg, Yongyue Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Occupational therapists address occupations, performance skills, and client factors that interfere with the successful occupational engagement in everyday activities, including psychosocial factors. However, due to the biomechanical model focus within hand therapy clinics, provision of a holistic care plan remains challenging for occupational therapists. If a client's psychosocial functioning is not addressed, progress toward a full recovery may be limited. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify how occupational therapists who are certified hand therapists (CHTs), address and provide interventions to clients with psychosocial factors that negatively impact function. Study Design: Mixed-Method. Methods: CHTs completed an electronic survey (n = 117) followed by a virtual focus group (n = 9). Survey data analysis included descriptive and correlational statistics to highlight frequencies, ranges, and relationships between the participant demographics and the selection of assessment and the intervention approaches. Thematic analysis guided the qualitative coding of the focus group transcripts. Results: Of the 117 survey respondents, 79% reported frequent use of the biomechanical approach. The most frequently administered assessment included the Quick-Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (n = 45; 40.9%). Five themes emerged from the focus groups: hand dysfunction impacts roles and routines; client rapport building takes time; CHT hesitation to address psychosocial factors; standardized assessments need to evaluate psychosocial factors that impact client function; and education and communication are critical intervention approaches. Conclusions: Occupational therapy practitioners primarily utilize the biomechanical approach and are less likely to assess or treat psychosocial factors that impact a client's function. However, participants reported a need for a standardized assessment to identify the psychosocial factors that impact their clients’ functional performance. Further research is warranted to increase the measurement and the use of holistic theoretical models of practice, assessments, and intervention approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Hand Therapy
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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