Document Type (Journals)
Telehealth delivered occupational therapy services are increasing, and students will need to be prepared to safely and ethically deliver telehealth services. Occupational therapy education standards require that students demonstrate knowledge of telehealth and related technology. However, there is a limited discussion in the literature on how programs are preparing students to deliver services via telehealth. This explanatory mixed methods study examined telehealth education in entry-level occupational therapy programs to understand if and how students are learning about telehealth. The quantitative portion involved a survey of 429 occupational therapy programs in the United States. The qualitative part involved four survey respondents in an interview. The low survey response rate (11.89%; N=51) brings into question if programs are comfortable talking about how they are meeting telehealth education standards. Survey respondents reported the use of lecture (98%) and electronic health records (55.1%) as the most frequently cited methods to deliver educational content about telehealth. Half of the programs did not include interactive content for students to apply telehealth knowledge and skills. The least frequently cited content included interaction with robotic arms (2.2%), telemonitoring (20%), provision of services through telehealth (20%), and use of gaming systems (23.9%). Three themes emerged from the interviews: educational activities, telehealth technology, and curriculum planning. Participants discussed a desire to add content and strategies for overcoming barriers to telehealth education such as utilizing existing technology and utilizing resources and experts. Telehealth education is not advancing as quickly as needed for application in practice. Students could benefit from added telehealth learning opportunities to become competent in telehealth service delivery.
Dr. Katrina M. Serwe, PhD, OTR/L is an Associate Professor in the Occupational Therapy Program at Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin. Her research interests include telehealth, evidence based practice in occupational therapy, and wellness.
Dr. Ranelle Nissen, PhD, OTR/L earned her PhD from Texas Woman's University. Her primary practice experience is with older adults in rural hospital and long term care settings. She is Associate Professor and Chair at the University of South Dakota with research work in telehealth, dementia care, and older adults.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Serwe, K. M., & Nissen, R. (2021). Survey of Occupational Therapy Education in Telehealth. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 5 (2). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2021.050206
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