Occupational therapists views and perceptions of Functional Capacity Evaluation of employees suffering from major depressive disorders.

Enos Morankoana Ramano, Tania Buys


Introduction: Major depressive disorders (MDD) cause work disability and work loss, often resulting in unemployment. Employees with MDD are often referred to occupational therapists (OTs) to assist with functional capacity evaluation (FCE). FCE forms a part of the return-to-work decision making process. This study describes the views and perceptions of occupational therapists regarding the requirements needed to conduct reliable FCEs of employees suffering from MDD. This research formed part of a larger study for a masters’ degree assessing the methods used by South African occupational therapists to formulating return to work decision.

Methods: This study employed an interpretative phenomenology. Data was collected in three phases using a descriptive open-ended questionnaire, focus groups and member checking groups. Thematic content data analysis was used.

Findings: In total, 78 occupational therapists were recruited and 39 participated, with response rates of (28) 47%, (11) 61% and (9) 82% respectively across the three phases. Three themes emerged, namely: (1) occupational therapists’ competencies in performing functional capacity evaluation (2) the process of functional capacity evaluation and (3) comprehensive functional capacity evaluation.

Conclusion: The purpose of functional capacity evaluation is to formulate return-to-work decisions. Occupational therapists should be competent in the use of standardised measurement tools, non-standardised assessment and clinical reasoning rather than use intuitive guesswork.

Key words: Major Depressive Disorder, Functional Capacity Evaluation, occupational therapy.

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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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