Ethical issues in occupational therapy are barely documented in France. The aim of this study is to provide first elements of information about the understanding, the description, and the experience, of ethical issues experienced by occupational therapists working in rehabilitation.
Two focus groups with six occupationnal therapists each were organised. In addition, one individual interview was conducted to expand the results of the survey. These results demonstrate that the notion of ethics is vague, complicated but essential and tending to develop. Occupational therapists speak of ethical problems rather than issues and describe multi-themed daily-life situations.
Occupational therapists describe situations where they are unable to give patients the quality of care they would like to provide due to different constraints in the work context. The main feeling expressed by occupational therapists is frustration. However, there is an asymmetry between the vocabulary spontaneously used to qualify their feelings and the one they choose to keep. The feelings reported correspond to the concept of ethical distress. However, occupational therapists do not relate to this term, which they consider too strong and corresponding to a stage they have not yet reached.
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