A case study of occupational therapy managers in NSW: Roles, responsibilities and work satisfaction

Jane E. Gamble, Michelle Lincoln, Barbara Adamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Job satisfaction has been shown to affect levels of staff retention and productivity, but few studies have been conducted on the work of occupational therapy managers and their job satisfaction. This study explores the roles and responsibilities of occupational therapy managers who are clinician-managers or manager-administrators, and sources of their work satisfaction. Methods: A collective case study involved telephone interviews with 16 occupational therapy managers. Semistructured interview questions were based on an earlier discussion with a separate group of occupational therapy managers. Interview transcripts were analysed for emerging themes. Results: There were no clear differences in the roles and responsibilities of the two types of managers (manager-administrators and clinician-managers); however, manager-administrators tended to be responsible for larger numbers of staff. Managers reported that taking a clinical caseload is often at their own discretion. A common challenge for managers is the balancing of priorities as a clinician and a manager. Managing people was a common source of joy and sometimes a source of frustration. Mediating between staff and senior management and the need for budget control and efficiencies was an important aspect of managers' work, as was their autonomy to make decisions. Conclusions: Occupational therapy managers assume responsibilities consistent with clinician managers across disciplines. The main sources of work satisfaction related to people management particularly when staff were working effectively as a team and there was respect from senior management. Further research will confirm whether there are no obvious differences between clinician-manager and manager-administrators, and whether there are clear differences in work-related frustration across sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-131
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


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