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Abstract

Purpose: To explore occupational, physical, and speech-language pathology therapists’ perceived effectiveness of telehealth and how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their professional roles. Method: Participants were recruited for the study through a research flyer distrusted via postal mail, emails, social media, and national association websites. An anonymous electronic 19-item survey was developed for this study by the researchers based on a review of the literature and clinical experience. Results. In total, 186 survey responses were obtained, with 152 meeting the inclusion criteria. The average age of participants was 38.6 years with an average work duration of 12.7 years ± 12.5 in their current profession. Participants reported an average of 32.2 ± 17.4 patients on their case load per week, of which 58% were face-to-face, 50.85% were seen via video, and 3.2% via phone. Results from the Likert scale questions revealed that almost 60% of the participants reported they viewed telehealth as a relevant service delivery method and 48.7% reported it is effective in delivering therapy. However, only 17.8% of participants agreed that telehealth is as effective as in-person therapy. Approximately 77% of participants did not have experience with using telehealth before the pandemic and 42.1% felt they did not receive adequate training for the use of telehealth during the pandemic. Benefits of using telehealth reported by participants include increased access to care (38.8%), reduced travel time (53.3%), schedule flexibility (49.3%), and improved continuity of care (26.3%). Conclusions. The findings of this study reveal that the switch to telehealth services provided multiple benefits for therapist and client. Many therapists also held multiple roles such as spouse and parent during the pandemic, making it important to understand how to deal with professional disruption while continuing to deliver therapy services with minimal interruption in client-centered care.

Author Bio(s)

Caesarinne Sprianu, OTD, OTR/L, has worked in the acute care and outpatient pediatrics and hand therapy settings for the past five years. She obtained her occupational therapy education from Loma Linda University with previous research including life coach perspectives of at-risk youth needs and presented at a national conference.

Dragana Krpalek, PhD, OTR/L, works with doctorate and PhD students, serving as an advisor as they shape their research projects, with her other teaching area involving instruction in functional neuroscience and trends in neuroscience. Clinical and research interests are in lifestyle medicine, and she coordinates research courses for the program.

Julie Kugel OTD, OTR/L, DipACLM, has worked in settings including acute care, in-patient rehab, out-patient hand therapy, out-patient pediatrics, and school-based practice before returning to school for her clinical doctorate at Loma Linda University. Dr. Kugel is Associate Professor and the Program Director of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

Gurinder Bains, PhD, is an Associate Professor for the School of Allied Health Professions at Loma Linda University. He teaches research courses to various departments and has been involved in research including intermittent fasting, inflammation, high intensity interval training and weight loss, humor/laughter, sleep, blood flow, and back pain.

Lida Gharibvand, PhD, teaches several statistics and health research courses at various departments within Loma Linda School of Allied Health Professions. She performs statistical data analysis to support PhD research projects, and provides data analysis consulting services for ongoing research projects from other faculty members and Master's degree students.

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