The impact of COVID-19 restrictions on occupational balance: A mixed method study of the experience of Australian occupational therapists

Aust Occup Ther J. 2021 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/1440-1630.12772. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: COVID-19 has seen unprecedented changes to the daily occupational lives of citizens across the globe as a result social and physical restrictions. Frontline healthcare workers health and wellbeing have been impacted but what of occupational balance? The aim of this study was to investigate if there was a change in the occupational balance of occupational therapists working in a metropolitan hospital during a COVID-19 lockdown.

METHODS: All occupational therapists working in a metropolitan hospital were invited to participate in an online survey. Occupational Balance was measured using the Occupational Balance Questionnaire-11 (OBQ11). Participants retrospectively rated their occupational balance before COVID-19 restrictions were in place and again rated their current status during the restrictions. Participants were also asked to comment on strategies used to help them during the COVID-19 restrictions.

RESULTS: Forty-two occupational therapists completed the survey. The mean total score prior to the COVID-19 restrictions was 19.4 and during restrictions was 19.0 (Z = -0.4, p = 0.68). There was a significant decrease in having sufficient to do during the COVID-19 restrictions (Z = -3.6, p < 0.001). Satisfaction with how time was spent in rest, recovery and sleep significantly increased during the restrictions (Z = -3.3, p = 0.001). Strategies used included engaging in valued activities, finding alternate ways of doing and showing gratitude.

CONCLUSION: Occupational balance of occupational therapists remained high and satisfaction in how time was spent improved during COVID-19 restrictions. Occupational therapists implemented their own theoretical approach of adaptation to cope with the COVID-19 restrictions.

PMID:34558096 | DOI:10.1111/1440-1630.12772

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