Lack of meaningful activity on acute physical hospital wards: older peoples' experiences

Channine Clarke, Caroline Stack, Marion Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Research suggests that older people on acute physical hospital wards are at increased risk of physical and mental health decline due to inactivity during their stay. Whilst studies have highlighted potential causes of such inactivity, there exists a paucity of occupational therapy research that explores engagement in meaningful occupational from patients' perspectives in hospital settings. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to gain a deeper understanding of how eighteen older people spent their time on hospital wards and the impact this had on their feelings of well-being. Interviews were carried out and analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) guidelines. Findings: Patients experienced a lack of meaningful activity on the wards which resulted in feelings of passivity, boredom and sense of alienation from their normal roles, routines and sense of self. Despite a willingness to engage in activity, barriers were suggested as limited resources, hospital routines and personal limitations. Suggestions of potential meaningful activities were made. Conclusion: Occupational therapy services need to review service provision and provide an occupation-focused service, ensuring that patients' engagement in meaningful activities is seen as an integral part of their role in order to maintain patients' mental and physical well-being. Recommendations for further research are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalBritish journal of occupational therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2017


Bibliographical note

Channine Clarke, Caroline Stack, Marion Martin, Lack of meaningful activity on acute physical hospital wards: older peoples' experiences British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.


  • Meaningful activity
  • hospital wards
  • inpatient experiences
  • older people
  • interpretative phenomenological analysis

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