Fine motor skills influence handwriting performance in children: A systematic review; and, Handwriting performance in children with developmental coordination disorder: The influence of manual dexterity and motor overflow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy) Honours


School of Exercise and Health Science


Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Sonya Girdler

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Catherine Elliot


Aim: The purpose of this systematic review is to investigate the relationship between fine motor skills and handwriting legibility and speed in children. Methods: Studies were selected if they included both a population of children between 5 to 12 years of age with poor handwriting, and a comparison sample of children with good handwriting. Studies that included participants with a known upper motor neuron lesion, a known intellectual impairment or known visual or hearing loss were excluded. Electronic searches were conducted of the CINAHL, Medline and PsycINFO databases for articles matching these criteria. Results: Nine articles were eligible for inclusion. Seven studies investigated the relationship between fine motor skills and handwriting legibility and four studies compared fine motor skills and handwriting speed. Across the studies selected, children with poor handwriting received significantly lower scores on fine motor assessments than children with good handwriting. Low to moderate correlations between fine motor skills and both handwriting legibility and handwriting speed were identified. Significance: Low to moderate correlations identified in this systematic review support the notion that handwriting is a complex task. To effectively manage handwriting deficits in children occupational therapists need to address fine motor skills as one of many components in a comprehensive handwriting assessment. Conclusions: Future randomised controlled trials are required to examine if a fine motor skills intervention program leads to improvements in handwriting legibility and speed in children with poor handwriting

Access Note

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Access to this thesis is restricted. Please see the Access Note below for access details.