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Video Telehealth Occupational Therapy Services for Older Veterans: National Survey Study.

Gately ME, Tickle-Degnen L, Voydetich DJ, Ward N, Ladin K, Moo LR. Video Telehealth Occupational Therapy Services for Older Veterans: National Survey Study. JMIR rehabilitation and assistive technologies. 2021 Apr 27; 8(2):e24299.

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BACKGROUND: Occupational therapy (OT) is a vital service that supports older adults'' ability to age in place. Given the barriers to accessing care, video telehealth is a means of providing OT. Even within Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a pioneer in telehealth, video telehealth by OT practitioners to serve older adults is not well understood. OBJECTIVE: This study examines VHA OT practice using video telehealth with older veterans using an implementation framework. METHODS: A web-based national survey of VHA OT practitioners conducted between September and October 2019 contained a mix of mostly closed questions with some open-text options. The questions were developed using the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services model with input from subject matter experts. The questions gathered the extent to which VHA OT practitioners use video telehealth with older veterans; are comfortable with video telehealth to deliver specific OT services; and, for those using video telehealth with older veterans, the barriers, facilitators of change, and perceived benefits of video telehealth. RESULTS: Of approximately 1455 eligible VHA OT practitioners, 305 participated (21.0% response rate). Most were female (196/259, 75.7%) occupational therapists (281/305, 92.1%) with a master''s degree (147/259, 56.8%) and 10 years or fewer (165/305, 54.1%) of VHA OT practice. Less than half (125/305, 41.0%) had used video telehealth with older veterans, and users and nonusers of video telehealth were demographically similar. When asked to rate perceived comfort with video telehealth to deliver OT services, participants using video telehealth expressed greater comfort than nonusers, which was significant for 9 of the 13 interventions: activities of daily living (P < .001), instrumental activities of daily living (P = .004), home safety (P < .001), home exercise or therapeutic exercise (P < .001), veteran or caregiver education (P < .001), durable medical equipment (P < .001), assistive technology (P < .001), education and work (P = .04), and wheelchair clinic or seating and positioning (P < .001). More than half (74/125, 59.2%) of those using video telehealth reported at least one barrier, with the most frequently endorsed being Inadequate space, physical locations and related equipment. Most (92/125, 73.6%) respondents using video telehealth reported at least one facilitator, with the most frequently endorsed facilitators reflecting respondent attitudes, including the belief that video telehealth would improve veteran access to care (77/92, 84%) and willingness to try innovative approaches (76/92, 83%). CONCLUSIONS: Most VHA OT survey respondents had not used video telehealth with older veterans. Users and nonusers were demographically similar. Differences in the percentages of respondents feeling comfortable with video telehealth for specific OT interventions suggest that some OT services may be more amenable to video telehealth. This, coupled with the primacy of respondent beliefs versus organizational factors as facilitators, underscores the need to gather clinicians'' attitudes to understand how they are driving the implementation of video telehealth.

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