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Effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions on function and occupational performance among adults with conditions of the hand, wrist, and forearm: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Introduction: This systematic review and meta-analysis examines the effectiveness of occupational therapy interventions for adults with conservatively managed conditions of the hand, wrist, and forearm. Methods: Searches were carried out in CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, MEDLINE (OVID), EMBASE, and PubMed. Grey literature was searched for via Google Scholar. A systematic literature search was undertaken for randomised studies that examined occupational therapy interventions for treatment of hand, wrist, and forearm conditions. The primary outcome was function, with secondary outcomes of occupational performance, satisfaction with occupational performance, pain, and quality of life. Meta-analyses were completed, and GRADE was used to determine the certainty of evidence. Results: Twelve studies with 1429 participants were identified. Interventions included combinations of occupation-based intervention, assistive device provision, education, orthosis provision, and exercise programmes for arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fracture and tendon injuries of the hand, wrist, and forearm. Occupational therapy resulted in an improvement of function (REM, SMD -0.27, 95% CI -0.00 to -0.53, I 2 = 69%, low certainty evidence) (p = 0.05), occupational performance (REM, SMD 0.83, 95% CI 1.61–0.06, I 2 = 91%, low certainty evidence) (p = 0.04), satisfaction with occupational performance (REM, SMD 0.74, 95% CI 1.42–0.05, I 2 = 89%, low certainty evidence) (p = 0.03), and pain reduction (FEM, MD -1.35, 95% CI -0.84 to -1.86, I 2 = 0%, moderate certainty evidence) (p < 0.00001). Conclusion: Further high-quality research is recommended to determine the effects of occupational therapy interventions on specific upper limb conditions, inclusive of a broader range of clinical and patient reported outcome measures



Australian Occupational Therapy Journal


John Wiley & Sons Australia

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  • Health Research Institute (HRI)

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  • (3) Good Health and Well-being

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  • Allied Health
  • School of Education

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