An invitation for stroke survivors (60 years or older) to volunteer in a Occupational Therapy assessment reliability study

Occupational therapy is a health profession concerned with promoting health and well-being through activities and occupations. The primary goal is to help people to do the everyday activities they want, need or are expected to do. Occupational therapists work with people to improve their ability. Occupational therapy after stroke involves people re-learning everyday activities to enable them to lead an independent life.

The Structured Observation of Test Functional (known as SOTOF) is an occupational therapy assessment. SOTOF was developed for older adults (age 60 years +) who have possible neurological problems after a stroke or head injury or because of conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. It provides a detailed description of a person’s functional ability in four personal activities of daily living (eating, washing, drinking and dressing) and provides a profile of the person’s skills and problems, for example after a stroke. The assessment has been designed so that people can undertake it if they have weakness in one side of their body after a stroke and / or if they are experiencing difficulties with speaking. It can be used to see if someone needs further neurological assessment and helps with planning their rehabilitation. 

When the SOTOF was developed in the 1990s, research with people with stroke showed it was a useful assessment which measures what it was designed for in a consistent way. The second edition of the SOTOF has included a new scoring  system and includes extra prompts, cues and adaptations which are used if a person is unable to complete an aspect of the assessment. This aims to assess what the therapist can do which could help the person to manage the task easier and gain more independence. This information can be used to advise the person with stroke, to inform rehabilitation plans and to support family and carers regarding the types of prompts, physical assistance and changes that can help to maximise a person’s ability after stroke. Because of the additions to the SOTOF, the reliability studies done when SOTOF was first developed need to be repeated.

We are looking for people who have had a stroke over six months ago to volunteer to take part in a ‘Test-retest reliability study with the SOTOF’. This type of study checks that an assessment is consistent overtime so that any changes that might be found on a person’s performance on the test at two different times indicate a genuine change in the person’s ability and is not related to an inconsistency or learning effect on the test.

For this study we are asking people to do the assessment with a Master’s occupational therapy student, called Sophie Weston. People will be asked to do the SOTOF assessment twice about two weeks apart. We are seeking people who are age 60 years or older, have had a stroke, have now been discharged from hospital and are no longer receiving active rehabilitation.

If you are interested to take part you will be given an information leaflet about the study. This can be read out loud to you if you are finding reading difficult. You can ask questions about the study. If you want to take part you will be asked to complete a consent form. If you struggle to sign your name you can give your consent verbally and this would be audio taped. You will be given the choice of where you would like to undertake the assessment. This could be at your home, or at York St John University or, if it was OK with the service, at the location of a Stroke Association or a charity run service/group you attend (there would need to be a suitable quiet and private space where the assessment could be undertaken).

At the first assessment session you would be asked a few questions about yourself (age, gender, ethnicity, level of education and any health conditions) and this will take approximately 5 minutes. Then you would do the SOTOF assessment. How long it takes varies from person to person, but on average it has been found to take about 50 minutes to do. The assessment involves a screening assessment and the completion of four activities of daily living tasks:

  • Eating from a bowl with a spoon.
  • Washing hands.
  • Pouring a drink from a jug and drinking from a cup.
  • Putting on a long-sleeved garment e.g. cardigan, jacket, shirt or blouse.

Then Sophie would arrange to meet with you about 14 days later to do the assessment for a 2nd time.

You don’t have to take part in the study and can change your mind before doing the assessment, after the first assessment or within two weeks of doing the second assessment. Not taking part or stopping during the study will not affect any services you are receiving.

Information about you would be kept confidential.  Any information with your name on will be locked in a filing cabinet in the office of Dr Alison Laver-Fawcett who is supervising Sophie as she does her research project. Alison is an Occupational Therapist and Associate Professor at York St John University. This information (such as a consent form) will be destroyed when the study is finished and within a maximum of 5 years. Anonymous information from the study will be kept on the University’s computer system and just be accessible to Sophie and Alison. They will need a password to access it. The anonymised results of the study will be written up for Sophie’s Research project for her Master’s degree in occupational therapy and may be written up as a journal article or a presented at a conference.

You will have a choice to receive a copy of your SOTOF assessment form and / or a copy of the results of the study when it is finished.

If you are interested in taking part or receiving more information about this study, please contact Sophie Weston via email at or if you prefer to telephone Alison at 01904 876419. Please leave an answer phone message with your name, contact number and mention this study.