Paediatric hand function assessment practices of occupational therapists in South Africa




Paediatric practice, Hand function assessment frameworks, Psychometric properties, Assessment methods, Contextually relevant instruments, Fine-motor skills


Introduction: South African occupational therapists' assessment practices of children's hand function are unknown, although the treatment thereof is an integral part of the paediatric scope of practice and clientele. Hand function assessment frameworks and instruments are available, but a lack of contextually relevant, comprehensive standardised instruments was identified. The study aimed to investigate occupational therapists' current paediatric hand function assessment practices and their preferences towards future practice. Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional study design using convenient and snowball sampling was employed. An EvaSysco survey system, custom-developed online questionnaire, was used to collect information. Results: In total, 194 HPCSA-registered occupational therapists participated. All the participants currently rely on informal observations. Although not exclusively designed for hand function, standardised developmental tests were often used. Limited familiarity with and use of t he available published hand function assessment instrument was reported. Future assessment preferences supported a standardised, comprehensive hand function assessment instrument for different age groups and paedi atric conditions. Conclusion: This study provides baseline evidence of current and preferred paediatric hand fu net ion assessment practices used by occupational therapists. The need for training to use the available published instruments was highlighted. Recommendations towards the refinement of existing or the development of a standardised, contextually relevant instrument for paediatric practice in South Africa are offered. Implications for practice This article offers a deeper understanding of available paediatric hand function assessment frameworks, assessment instruments, and practices of occupational therapists. It provides an outline of existing methods therapist use and offers
clear directives for how the South African OT would prefer to assess hand function in eh ildren. Emphasis is placed on the need for a contextually relevant instrument and future research in refining existing instruments or developing a new instrument is proposed. Additionally, practitioners provided practical suggestions to guide the development of a contextually relevant instrument for potential use in future instrument development research.


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How to Cite

Visser, M., Nel, M., Bornman, C., Kellerman, T., Miller, Z., & Oosthuizen, C. (2023). Paediatric hand function assessment practices of occupational therapists in South Africa. South African Journal of Occupational Therapy, 53(3), 22–35.



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