Occupational therapists have specialized expertise to enable people to perform meaningful “occupations” that support health, well-being, and participation in life roles. Given the physical, cognitive, and psychologic disability experienced by ICU survivors, occupational therapists could play an important role in their recovery. We conducted a scoping review to determine the state of knowledge of interventions delivered by occupational therapists in adult ICU patients.
Eight electronic databases from inception to 05/2018.
We included reports of adult patients receiving direct patient care from an occupational therapist in the ICU, all study designs, and quantitative and qualitative traditions.
Independently in duplicate, interprofessional team members screened titles, abstracts, and full texts and extracted report and intervention characteristics. From original research articles, we also extracted study design, number of patients, and primary outcomes. We resolved disagreements by consensus.
Of 50,700 citations, 221 reports met inclusion criteria, 74 (79%) published after 2010, and 125 (56%) appeared in critical care journals. The three most commonly reported types of interventions were mobility (81%), physical rehabilitation (61%), and activities of daily living (31%). We identified 46 unique original research studies of occupational therapy interventions; the most common study research design was before-after studies (33%).
The role of occupational therapists in ICU rehabilitation is not currently well established. Current interventions in the ICU are dominated by physical rehabilitation with a growing role in communication and delirium prevention and care. Given the diverse needs of ICU patients and the scope of occupational therapy, there could be an opportunities for occupational therapists to expand their role and spearhead original research investigating an enriched breadth of ICU interventions.