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Veterans’ PTSD and occupational therapy


Delegates to Occupational Therapy Australia’s (OTA) 28th National Conference have been told of a recent literature review of occupational therapy interventions in the treatment of military veterans experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mr Nathan Kerr, a veteran and doctoral student at the University of Newcastle, told delegates that as the rates of military personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder rise, occupational therapists are increasingly concerned about the impact of this disorder on health and occupational performance.

“Unfortunately, the literature addressing these concerns has not been summarised or integrated,” Mr Kerr said. “The objective of this paper was to review existing articles that meet the inclusion criteria of describing PTSD interventions for military personnel or veterans that can be provided by occupational therapists.”

Arksey and O’Malley’s framework for scoping reviews was utilised. A search of three databases identified 23 articles that met the inclusion criteria.  The interventions described were categorised using the Person, Environment and Occupational model.

Of the 23 papers, only 4 provided data to support the efficacy of interventions. The most commonly mentioned interventions focused on Person and Occupation and included: a) problem solving strategies (n=12; Person); b) return to duty (n=12; Occupation) and; c) stress/anger and coping management skills (n=10; Person).

Eleven papers mentioned occupation-based practices while nine described the use of psychological therapies. Twelve papers discussed services for military personnel, ten for veterans, and one reported on both cohorts.

Mr Kerr said occupational therapists internationally are active in providing services to deployed military personnel with PTSD, and do so using a range of interventions focused on the person and occupational adaptations. However, few mention occupational therapy interventions for veterans with PTSD, specific to the challenge of transition into civilian life and reorientation of identity.

“Within the Australian context there is no published literature on the occupational therapy role for either military personnel or veterans experiencing PTSD. However, occupational therapists appear well placed to work with veterans to build on existing strengths, skills and professional identities in order to minimise the impact of PTSD on daily life,” Mr Kerr said.

Approximately 1,350 delegates have converged on Sydney’s International Convention Centre for OTA’s 28th National Conference, the theme of which is Together Towards Tomorrow, which highlights the many ways in which occupational therapists work together and in partnership with consumers, communities and colleagues to support optimal occupational performance, health and well-being.

The conference, featuring plenary sessions and academic presentations, enables delegates to learn about and discuss the latest developments in the science of occupational therapy. It runs from 10 to 12 July.

Media Contact
Michael Barrett | Government, Media and Public Relations
0403 795 505

About Occupational Therapy Australia
Occupational Therapy Australia is the national professional association representing occupational therapy in Australia. We offer opportunities for our members to enhance best practice through professional development, support, and access to profession-specific information

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