Occupational Therapists Self-Perceived Knowledge and Skills for Enabling Older Adult with Delirium

Ms Cheri Strecker1, Dr Danielle Hitch1

1Deakin University, Geelong, Australia


Aims: The aim of the study was to describe Australian occupational therapists self-perceived knowledge and skills for enabling older adults (65+) with delirium to participate in meaningful activities.

Method: This study utilised a descriptive cross-sectional design, via an anonymous survey using mixed methods data collection. Non-probability purposive and snowball sampling was used to recruit qualified occupational therapists who had worked with older people experiencing delirium within the past 12 months.

Results: Seventy-five occupational therapists participated, the majority of whom worked in metropolitan areas and were in the first decades of their career. Knowledge of delirium by occupational therapists was comparable to a previous study of nurses, although the higher risk posed by visual and hearing impairment was not recognised. Most participants were confident or somewhat confident in their skills in working with people experiencing delirium, but identified several areas of priority for future training and development. Frequently used assessments included functional assessment, clock drawing and 4AT. Environmental modifications and activities of daily living interventions were the most prevalent.

Significance of findings to allied health : While allied health clinicians have a range of skills to offer in the management of delirium, their ability to deploy them often depends on the awareness of their role of multidisciplinary team members. There are currently very few studies into the knowledge of allied health clinicians of delirium, or the roles they are currently playing in this practice area. Understanding existing clinician knowledge and performance will enable suitable workforce support and development.


Dani Hitch is the Allied Health Research and Translation Lead at Western Health, and a Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at Deakin University. Her particular areas of interest include knowledge translation, occupational therapy and social justice.