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Scand J Occup Ther. 2013 Mar;20(2):136-42. doi: 10.3109/11038128.2012.741621. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Participating in diagnostic experience: adults with neuropsychiatric disorders.

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  • 1Neuropsychiatric Unit, County Council of Östergötland, Linköping, Sweden.


Abstract Knowledge regarding neuropsychiatric disabilities has increased in recent years, resulting in an increasing number of adults requesting neuropsychiatric evaluation. The aim of this qualitative study was to describe adult clients' experiences of participating actively in a supportive assessment process in which they received a diagnosis of either autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and then received follow-up counselling, guidance, and compensatory resources that were immediate and directly integrated into the diagnostic experience. The Occupational Performance History Interview - Second Version (OPHI-II) was selected because it is client-centred. It measures how a significant life event affects a person's occupational identity, occupational competence, and interaction with the environment. The OPHI-II was administered to capture 15 participants' experiences of being diagnosed with ASD and/or ADHD as the significant life event of focus. Three categories were formed by using qualitative content analysis: (i) strengthened occupational identity; (ii) compensatory support enhances occupational competence, and (iii) effects of the social environment on relationships. Findings indicated that the diagnostic experience had transformative effects on participants' occupational identities, occupational competence, and ability to self-advocate for increased understanding and resources within their environments. The implications of these findings and future research are discussed.

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