Professional reasoning of occupational therapy driver rehabilitation interventions

Angela Berndt, Claire Hutchinson, Dillon Trepper, Stacey George

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Driver-trained occupational therapists are advanced practitioners who work with people to help maintain their independence and autonomy through driving. There is a lack of investigation of professional reasoning processes for why interventions are recommended by driver-trained occupational therapists. This research project sought to explore the reasoning of driver-trained occupational therapists when they plan, implement, and reflect on driver rehabilitation interventions.

In-depth semistructured interviews (n = 7) and one focus group (n = 5) were conducted with 12 experienced driver-trained occupational therapists, comprising a wide range of experience, client populations, and licensing jurisdictions. Data were analysed using a modified template analysis approach.

Seven higher order modes that reflect professional reasoning theory and hierarchical models were evident in the work of the driver-trained occupational therapists, with no new modes of reasoning emerging. Ethical reasoning regarding the balance of safety versus client independence was an overarching shared framework, with therapists mostly using interactive and conditional reasoning in practice. Twenty-three second-level themes were identified that exemplify how the reasoning modes operate in practice. Therapists described assessment activity even when solely asked about intervention, indicating the importance of assessment to intervention design. The full hierarchy of reasoning was evident during the rehabilitation phase.

These findings elucidate the application of professional reasoning in advanced occupational therapy practices and could support driver-trained occupational therapists in making driving rehabilitation recommendations if used in reflective practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-446
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number4
Early online date16 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • activities of daily living
  • automobile driving
  • clinical reasoning
  • occupational therapy
  • qualitative research


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