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      Was a global pandemic needed to adopt the use of telehealth in occupational therapy?

      1 , 2 , 2 , World Federation of Occupational Therapists
      Work
      IOS Press

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          Abstract

          BACKGROUND: An analysis of data from an international survey was undertaken to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on telehealth practice in occupational therapy worldwide, in addition to facilitators and barriers in utilising this form of service delivery. METHOD: The global online survey was circulated in the occupational therapy community by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) between April and July 2020, collecting responses to closed-ended questions, in addition to free-text comments. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analyses were used to assess relationships between respondent characteristics and the utilisation of telehealth. Thematic statement analysis provided further insight regarding factors impacting telehealth use. RESULTS: Findings revealed a significant increase in the use of telehealth strategies with the onset of the pandemic among survey respondents, with many reported benefits. Bivariate analyses indicated telehealth users were more likely to score higher feelings of safety and positive work morale, as well as perceive employer expectations to be reasonable. Restricted access to technology, limitations of remote practice, funding issues and slow pace of change were identified as barriers for some respondents to utilising telehealth. Facilitators included availability of supportive policy, guidelines and strategies, in addition to education and training. CONCLUSION: This study advances the understanding of the current scope of occupational therapy telehealth practice in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although results suggest long-term potential for telehealth use as an adjunct to traditional service provision, important considerations were identified regarding factors influencing integration of such strategies.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Work
          WOR
          IOS Press
          10519815
          18759270
          January 29 2021
          January 29 2021
          : 68
          : 1
          : 13-20
          Affiliations
          [1 ]Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany
          [2 ]World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Geneva, Switzerland
          Article
          10.3233/WOR-205268
          33337401
          c0a712f5-9980-4e73-bef0-ac68cf85ae83
          © 2021
          History

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