Through the Eyes of Students: Ethical Tensions in Occupational Therapy Practice

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Background.Many researchers have expressed concerns about ethical tensions in occupational therapy practice; yet little research has considered this topic from the perspective of students. Purpose.The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of ethical tensions witnessed or experienced by occupational therapy students during practice education. Method.A phenomenological approach was used, and in-depth interviews were conducted at a Canadian university with 25 occupational therapy students. Findings.Four major themes emerged from analysis of the data. These include systemic constraints, conflicting values, witnessing questionable behaviour, and failure to speak up. Implications.The findings of this study raise awareness about ethical tensions in occupational therapy practice witnessed or experienced by students. Critical reflection on the findings highlights implications for professional practice and education and points to the need for further research, particularly in the area of policy and practice.

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