Recreation Therapists’ Clinical Decision Making in Mental Health

Sheri Steffen

Purpose: To understand what influences Recreation Therapists’ (RT’s) clinical decision-making in a mental health setting.

Methods: Two study phases, journaling and a focus group utilized a qualitative approach with ethnographic techniques. A systematic, inductive approach guided analysis of the focus group transcript, 36 field-note entries and 160 journal entries from 10 therapists across 10 sites in one Canadian health region.

Findings: RTs’ had a common practice philosophy; however, gaps exists especially the limited use of research evidence in decision-making. A lack of infrastructure supporting mental health services including clinical leadership, opportunities for mentorship, and contextual factors such as limited time and resources were additional influences on decision-making.

Conclusion: Clinical leadership across work sites could bridge the gaps. Increasing opportunities for mentorship and sharing experiences, supporting ‘full scope’ practice, and growing the use of research evidence to inform clinical decision-making are among the potential benefits.