Purpose: The engagement of allied health students in telehealth consultations whilst on clinical placement has rapidly increased due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. While this is understandable given the circumstances, it has occurred on the largely unfounded assumption that utilising telehealth is pedagogically appropriate to supplement or replace assessed placements. Method: This rapid review used the Cochrane rapid review methodology to synthesise the literature relating to the perspectives of allied health students whilst on clinical placements utilising telehealth. Results: A systematic search and selection process found three studies. In summary, the combined findings of the research suggest that student perspectives were generally positive, and several important benefits were reported, including being able to improve knowledge and skills, and reduce anxiety for some consultations. However, students acknowledged that some consultations were considerably more difficult to undertake without being in the same physical space as clients. Conclusions: The methodological quality of these three papers was inconsistent, and collectively the area clearly needs more evidence to support the transition of face-to-face to telehealth environments. Recommendations: Based on broader telehealth literature, the authors propose several recommendations to meet the immediate challenge of insufficient guiding research evidence. These include deconstructing telehealth placements into discrete clinical placement elements, using education theory to support student clinicians to implement a proactive, integrated approach to adopting telehealth as a standard service modality, and investing in and developing infrastructure, policy, systems, education, and training in an explicit, systematic manner. The use of telehealth within allied health clinical placements is here to stay, but considerable work is needed to prepare students for this environment as well as triaging and progressively scaffolding their experiences.
The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of Linda Whitby to the search strategy for the manuscript and Research assistant Lee Koh.
Bridgman K, Erickson S, Furlong L, Bird A. Allied Health Student Engagement in Telehealth Clinical Placements: A Rapid Review. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2022 Mar 31;20(2), Article 1.