Individualizing standardized tests: physiotherapists and occupational therapists' test practices in a geriatric setting


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Qualitative Health Research;23(9)


Sage Publications

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In assessing geriatric patients’ functional status, health care professionals use a number of standardized tests. These tests have defined administration procedures that restrict communication and interaction with patients. In this article, we explore the experiences of occupational therapists and physiotherapists acting as standardized test administrators. Drawing on fieldwork, interviews with physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and observations of test situations on acute geriatric wards, we suggest that the test situation generates a tension between what standardization demands and what individualization requires. Our findings illustrate how physiotherapists and occupational therapists navigate between adherence to the test standard and meeting what they consider to be the individual patient’s needs in the test situation. We problematize this navigation, and argue that the health care professional’s use of relational competence is the means to reach and maintain individualization



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