Reflection-in-practice: A survey of Australian occupational therapists.

Aust Occup Ther J 2019 Jan 25. Epub 2019 Jan 25.

Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Primary Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Frankston, Victoria, Australia.

Introduction: The ability to reflect on practice and context is an essential professional behaviour required by occupational therapists and included within practice guidelines and standards. Research has demonstrated the benefits of reflection within specialist areas of practice. However, there is a lack of research into reflection within, and across, work place practice. The aim of this study was to understand how occupational therapists define, conceptualise and engage in reflection in practice.

Methods: Occupational therapists (N = 112) participated in a cross sectional study, which utilised a self-administered, purpose designed survey distributed via the Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA), e-bulletin. Data were summarised using frequency and percentage distributions, mean and standard deviation, and Pearson's r correlation coefficients was used to measure relationships between variables.

Results: There was a high level of interest and engagement in self-reflection, and a positive relationship between 'years since graduation' and 'level of engagement in self-reflection'. Respondents strongly agreed that the purpose of reflection was to learn from experiences and that it was key to being a self-directed learner. They disagreed that its purpose was 'to describe and record my new learning' and that 'reflective practice is no different to clinical reasoning'. The highest ranked barrier was workplace demands, and participant knowledge of reflection theories was low.

Conclusions: These participants were interested in and valued reflection-in-practice; however, workplace demands on time may explain low engagement in reflective journaling. Participants indicated low knowledge of reflection theories, and they identified this as a barrier. Their purposes for engaging in reflection were generally consistent with the professional standards pertaining to reflection. In the preferred definition, reflection was associated with contextual and systemic factors, concepts central to an occupational justice perspective. The findings of this study will contribute to developing an expansive understanding of reflection applicable to occupational therapy professional practice.

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