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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 54, Issue 5, September/October 2000, Pages 509-515.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.5014/ajot.54.5.509. Copyright © American Occupational Therapy Association


OBJECTIVE: This pilot study explored occupational therapists' perceptions of their roles as interventionists providing education and support for caregivers of persons with dementia. The intervention was provided in caregivers' homes as part of a larger funded study.

METHOD: Interviews were conducted with four occupational therapists to elicit their reflections on practice and their views on occupational therapy services on the basis of their experiences providing support and education for caregivers in the funded study.

RESULTS: Key themes consisted of the contrasts between the therapists' roles in the study and their customary practices and the professional and personal impact of their role in the study. Their recommendations for occupational therapy services emphasized the need to (a) collaborate with patients, families, and other health care staff members to solve problems; (b) acknowledge others as experts; (c) include family perspectives; and (d) fully address the needs of patients and families in their home environments.

CONCLUSION: Providing support and education for caregivers in the community can be a major transition for therapists accustomed to practicing in more traditional settings. Additional research is needed to explore the ways in which specific practice contexts influence delivery of occupational therapy services.

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