How health-seeking behavior affects occupational therapy outcomes in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome




Martin, Hope

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a prevalent disease that affects about 10 % of the population (CDC, 1977). Many people wait to seek treatment for CTS but it is unclear why people wait to seek treatment and how this behavior affects treatment outcomes. The phenomenon of seeking help for a disease or problem requires adaptation, or internal change on the part of the seeker. Occupational therapists frequently treat patients with CTS but it is unclear from the literature if the treatment methods are effective and if the timing of seeking treatment plays a role in the outcomes of occupational therapy management. This dissertation explores health-seeking behavior in patients with CTS and the effects of the treatment on perceived and physical outcome measures.

Chapter one introduces the problem and the specific aims of the dissertation. Chapter two provides a review of the literature for conservative management of CTS in the fields of family practice, neurology, occupational and physical therapy to understand current conservative treatment methods. The third explores health-seeking behavior within the context of qualitative research in the literature to determine previous works and examples as well as presents health belief themes of patients with CTS from a pilot qualitative study.

Chapter four describes a more in-depth qualitative study modeled after the pilot study in chapter three that examines health beliefs and adaptive strategies in patients with CTS based on each patient's duration of symptomatic presentation. The fifth chapter describes a quantitative study that examines the effectiveness of occupational therapy treatment for CTS based on the duration of symptomatic presentation to determine if current occupational therapy treatment methods lead to significant physical and perceived outcomes.

The significance of this work to the profession of occupational therapy is three-fold. First, it explores patients' health beliefs and health seeking behavior for the very common diagnosis, CTS. Second, this work looks in depth at health beliefs and adaptive strategies of 5 patients with CTS to discover specific themes and common trends in this group of patients that may be applicable to the population at large. Lastly, this work examined the most common occupational therapy treatment methods for patients with CTS to determine if those methods lead to interesting findings and/or significant physical and perceived outcomes.