Open Access Open Badges Research article

Everyday uses of standardized test information in a geriatric setting: a qualitative study exploring occupational therapist and physiotherapist test administrators’ justifications

Kariann Krohne1*, Sandra Torres2, Åshild Slettebø13 and Astrid Bergland1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo 0130, Norway

2 Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala 751 26, Sweden

3 Department of Health and Nursing Science, University of Agder, Grimstad 4879, Norway

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:72  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-72

Published: 17 February 2014



Health professionals are required to collect data from standardized tests when assessing older patients’ functional ability. Such data provide quantifiable documentation on health outcomes. Little is known, however, about how physiotherapists and occupational therapists who administer standardized tests use test information in their daily clinical work. This article aims to investigate how test administrators in a geriatric setting justify the everyday use of standardized test information.


Qualitative study of physiotherapists and occupational therapists on two geriatric hospital wards in Norway that routinely tested their patients with standardized tests. Data draw on seven months of fieldwork, semi-structured interviews with eight physiotherapists and six occupational therapists (12 female, two male), as well as observations of 26 test situations. Data were analyzed using Systematic Text Condensation.


We identified two test information components in everyday use among physiotherapist and occupational therapist test administrators. While the primary component drew on the test administrators’ subjective observations during testing, the secondary component encompassed the communication of objective test results and test performance.


The results of this study illustrate the overlap between objective and subjective data in everyday practice. In clinical practice, by way of the clinicians’ gaze on how the patient functions, the subjective and objective components of test information are merged, allowing individual characteristics to be noticed and made relevant as test performance justifications and as rationales in the overall communication of patient needs.

Standardized testing; Physiotherapist; Occupational therapist; Professional practice; Information use; Geriatric patients; Qualitative research; Fieldwork; Interviews