The impact of undergraduate occupational therapy students’ interpersonal skills on their fieldwork education performance: A pilot study

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Introduction: Interpersonal skills such as active listening, verbal communication, and body language are essential competencies for occupational therapists. Occupational therapy students are expected to demonstrate these competencies when completing fieldwork placements. Objective: To investigate if interpersonal skills are predictive of occupational therapy students’ fieldwork performance. Method: A cross sectional study was conducted involving third and fourth year occupational therapy undergraduate students’ (n = 70). Students’ interpersonal skills were measured using the Listening Styles Profile (LSP-R), the Active-Empathic Listening Scale (AELS), and the Interpersonal Communication Competence Scale (ICCS). Students’ midway and final fieldwork placement performance was measured using the SPEF-R. The relationships between students’ interpersonal skills and their fieldwork performance were examined using univariate and multivariate regressions. Results: Students’ higher ICCS interaction management subscale scores were predictive of better self-management skills at midway through fieldwork placements (b= 1.93, SE=0.76). Higher ICCS interaction management subscale scores were also predictive of better professional behaviours (b= 1.28, SE=0.64) and better service evaluation skills (b= 2.84, SE=0.95) at the final SPEF-R completion. Higher ICCS empathy subscale scores predicted lower documentation SPEF-R scores at halfway (b= -0.81, SE=0.38), while higher ICCS supportiveness subscale scores predicted lower halfway service provision SPEF-R scores (b= - 2.84, SE=1.77). Subscale scores of LSP-R and AELS were not found predictive of SPEF-R scores. Conclusion: This preliminary evidence indicates that occupational therapy students’ interpersonal skills can predict some key SPEF-R competencies. These interpersonal skills should be incorporated into the curriculum of academic education programs to better prepare students embarking on fieldwork placements.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2018
EventOccupational Therapy Australia National Conference and Exhibition 2017: Partnership, Inclusion and Innovation - Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Perth, Australia
Duration: 19 Jul 201721 Jul 2017
Conference number: 27th


ConferenceOccupational Therapy Australia National Conference and Exhibition 2017
Abbreviated titleOTAUS 2017

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