Evidence-based practice guidelines for prescribing home modifications for clients with bariatric care needs

Laura de Lange, Emma Coyle, Helen Todd, Cylie Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background/aim: Home modifications maintain people's functional independence and safety. No literature exists to guide the prescription of home modifications for clients with bariatric care needs. With Australia's increasing obesity rate, more evidence is needed to support home modification prescribers. This study aimed to map Australian home modification prescribing practices for clients with bariatric care needs and to establish and evaluate a clinical resource for this prescription process. Methods: The study included two phases. Phase 1 conducted a cross-sectional survey of therapists practicing in Australia, and Australian industry partners who prescribe or install home modifications for clients with bariatric care needs. Phase 2 included design, implementation and evaluation of a clinical resource. Data were analysed with means and frequencies; multivariable regression analysis was used to explore prescribing habits. Results: Therapists surveyed (n = 347) reported 11 different bariatric weight definitions. Less than 3% constantly or regularly prescribed home modifications for these clients; rails were most commonly prescribed. Many therapists (n = 171, 58%) ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ knew rail load capacity. Therapists’ knowledge of rail load capacity was associated with previous experience prescribing home modifications (P = 0.009); rail manufacturer's advice (P = 0.016) and not using advice from builders (P = 0.001). Clinical resources were used by 11% (n = 26) of therapists to support their prescription, and industry sporadically relied on therapists to specify modification design requirements (n = 5, 45%). Post-implementation of a clinical resource increased consensus regarding understanding of the term bariatric and increased consultation with builders and manufacturers. Conclusion: There was a lack of consistency in bariatric terminology, uncertainty of rail load capacities and minimal use of clinical practice guidelines. Additional resources will assist with consistency in prescribing practices to maximise occupational performance for clients with bariatric care needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-114
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • bariatric
  • evidence-based practice
  • home assessment/modification
  • intervention and service provision
  • obesity

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