What factors influence time-use of occupational therapists in the workplace? A systematic review

Bianca Summers, Kate Laver, Rebecca Nicks, Natasha Lannin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Health-care expenditure is rapidly increasing in Australia with increasing pressure on health-care services to review processes, improve efficiency and ensure equity in service delivery. The nursing profession have improved efficiency and patient care by investigating time-use to describe current practice and support development of workforce planning models. There is, however, a lack of information to understand factors that impact on occupational therapists time-use in the clinical setting impacting the development of workforce planning models which adapt occupational therapy service delivery to match resources with demand. The objective of this review was to systematically identify known factors which impact on occupational therapists time-use in the clinical setting. Method: A systematic review of Medline, PsycINFO and CINAHL databases and grey literature was completed in September 2016. Two authors independently screened studies for inclusion and quality was evaluated using the Downs and Black scale. Variables impacting on occupational therapists time-use were categorised and thematically analysed to synthesise key themes. Results: Twenty studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Three key categories of factors influencing time-use were identified. These were: patient-related factors (e.g. level of function, therapy required, type, complexity of injury), therapist-related factors (e.g. experience, clinical vs non-clinical responsibility), and organisational-related factors (e.g. workplace characteristics, availability of staff, presence of students). Conclusion: Occupational therapist time-use in clinical settings is complex and difficult to quantify in research. How occupational therapists spend their time is impacted by a number of patient, clinician and service related factors reflecting the breadth of occupational therapy practice and client-centred nature of the profession.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-237
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • allied health occupation
  • delivery of health care
  • health planning
  • occupational therapy
  • time management


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