Otago Polytechnic
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Clinical reasoning

Linda Robertson

Clinical reasoning is an area of increasing interest for researchers, educators and clinicians in the field of occupational therapy. Understanding this decision-making process gives therapists greater insight into clinical reasoning and allows them to make positive changes in their own practice.

That’s the view of Dr Linda Robertson, principal lecturer at the Occupational Therapy Department of Otago Polytechnic, whose recent book Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy: Controversies in Practice questions many of the assumptions about how we reason.

“Overtime, I became quite familiar with the academic literature and I was struck by how non-questioning much of the writing was. Textbooks on reasoning contain separate chapters that contradict one another and yet nobody comments on it. I was concerned about this, and that is how this book came about, pulling together what’s been written so far,” she said.

The book also contains excerpts of practice in the form of narratives from other expert clinicians. “One of the chapters in the book, ‘Kai Whakaora Ngangahau – Māori Occupational Therapists’ Collective Reasoning’, gives us an insight into Māori perspectives. We don’t have much in New Zealand in the way of written documentation about reasoning from a Māori perspective. I would like to further explore this area of reasoning in a bi-cultural society,” she says.

Dr Robertson believes that the Polytechnic programme should include more about the concept of biculturalism. “It is important to clearly define what’s going on for the [other] person and what they are concerned about, what you might want to deal with and then how you deal with it. Some cultures might be more individually oriented than other cultures. It’s being able to understand the genuine differences that’s important,” she says.