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Research Article  |   January 1994
Mandatory HIV Testing and Occupational Therapists
Author Affiliations
  • Janet Falk-Kessler, MA, OTR, is Assistant Director of the Programs in Occupational Therapy and Assistant Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy, Columbia University, New York, New York, (Mailing Address: 1515 Washington Street, Cortlandt Manor, New York 10566)
  • Cheryl Barnowski, MS, OTR, is an occupational therapist with the New York City Board of Education. At the time of this study, she was a Master of Science student in Columbia University’s Program in Occupational Therapy, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • Sabrina Salvant, MS, MPH, OTR, is an occupational therapist With the New York City Board of Education. At the time of this study, she was a joint degree candidate in Columbia University’s Master of Science Program in Occupational Therapy and Master of Public Health Program in Columbia University’s School of Public Health, New York, New York
Article Information
Ethics / Education of OTs and OTAs / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Research
Research Article   |   January 1994
Mandatory HIV Testing and Occupational Therapists
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1994, Vol. 48, 27-37. doi:10.5014/ajot.48.1.27
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, January 1994, Vol. 48, 27-37. doi:10.5014/ajot.48.1.27
Abstract

Objectives. As the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) increases, so does the prevalence of HIV-positive health care workers. This study explored what effect this will have on occupational therapy service provision. Attitudes and policies of 118 occupational therapy administrators were examined in relation to mandatory testing for HIV, attitudes on treating HIV-positive patients, working with HIV-positive staff members and students, and use of Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on universal precautions.

Methods. A stratified sample of 200 occupational therapy administrators, drawn proportionally from all occupational therapy fieldwork centers, was sent questionnaires. The respondents (N = 118) were asked questions reflecting policy and attitude regarding HIV-positive staff members, students, and patients and mandatory testing. Descriptive statistics and chisquare analyses were computed to examine variances related to policy, ethics, and attitudes.

Results. Few occupational therapy departments have policies regarding HIV-positive health care workers or students. Those policies in place involve disability discrimination acts and using universal precautions. More than one third of the respondents support mandatory testing of all health care workers and notifying patients if their occupational therapist is HIV-positive. A large minority of respondents would either refuse to hire or train an HIV-positive therapist or student, or would restrict patient care responsibilities.

Conclusions. Although most occupational therapy administrators adhere to CDC guidelines and antidiscrimination policies, some concern and fear was expressed regarding HIV transmission through occupational therapy practice. This may result in administrative decisions regarding work and training responsibilities that are unnecessarily restrictive, such as limiting all patient care responsibilities.