Physiotherapy - Research Publications

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    Exploring experiences with telehealth-delivered allied healthcare services for people with permanent and significant disabilities funded through a national insurance scheme: a qualitative study examining challenges and suggestions to improve services
    Filbay, S ; Bennell, KL ; Morello, R ; Smith, L ; Hinman, RS ; Lawford, BJ (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2022-09-01)
    OBJECTIVES: In people with a disability, or their caregivers, who reported suboptimal experiences, the objectives were to explore: (1) challenges with telehealth-delivered allied health services during the COVID-19 pandemic and (2) suggestions to improve such services. DESIGN: Qualitative study based on an interpretivist paradigm and a phenomenological approach. SETTING: Participants who accessed allied healthcare via telehealth during the pandemic. PARTICIPANTS: Data saturation was achieved after 12 interviews. The sample comprised three people with permanent or significant disabilities, and nine carers/partners/family members of people with permanent or significant disabilities, who were funded by the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme and had suboptimal experiences with telehealth. Semistructured one-on-one interviews explored experiences with telehealth and suggestions on how such services could be improved. An inductive thematic analysis was performed. RESULTS: Six themes relating to the first study objective (challenges with telehealth) were developed: (1) evoked behavioural issues in children; (2) reliant on caregiver facilitation; (3) inhibits clinician feedback; (4) difficulty building rapport and trust; (5) lack of access to resources and (6) children disengaged/distracted. Five themes relating to the second study objective (suggestions to improve telehealth services) were developed: (1) establish expectations; (2) increase exposure to telehealth; (3) assess suitability of specific services; (4) access to support workers and (5) prepare for telehealth sessions. CONCLUSIONS: Some people with permanent and significant disabilities who accessed allied healthcare via telehealth during the pandemic experienced challenges, particularly children. These unique barriers to telehealth need customised solutions so that people with disabilities are not left behind when telehealth services become more mainstream. Increasing experience with telehealth, setting expectations before consultations, supplying resources for therapy and assessing the suitability of clients for telehealth may help overcome some of the challenges experienced.
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    An international core capability framework for physiotherapists delivering telephone-based care
    Davies, L ; Hinman, RS ; Russell, T ; Lawford, B ; Bennell, K (AUSTRALIAN PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSOC, 2022-04-22)
    QUESTION: What are the core capabilities that physiotherapists need in order to deliver quality telephone-based care? DESIGN: Three-round modified e-Delphi survey. PARTICIPANTS: An international Delphi panel comprising experts in the field, including consumers, physiotherapy researchers, physiotherapy clinicians and representatives of physiotherapy organisations. METHODS: A modified e-Delphi survey was conducted. A draft framework was adapted from a previously developed core capability framework for physiotherapists delivering care via videoconferencing. The panel considered the draft framework of 39 individual capabilities across six domains. Over three rounds, panellists rated their agreement (via Likert or 0-to-10 numerical rating scales) on whether each capability was essential (core) for physiotherapists to deliver telephone-based care. Capabilities achieving consensus, defined as 75% of the panel rating the item at least 7 out of 10 in Round 3, were retained. RESULTS: Seventy-one panellists from 17 countries participated in Round 1, with retention of 89% in Round 2 and 82% in Round 3. The final framework comprised 44 capabilities across six domains: compliance (n = 7 capabilities); patient privacy and confidentiality (n = 4); patient safety (n = 7); telehealth delivery (n = 9); assessment and diagnosis (n = 7); and care planning and management (n = 10). CONCLUSION: This framework outlines the core capabilities that physiotherapists need to provide telephone-based care. It can help inform content of physiotherapy curricula and professional development initiatives in telehealth delivery and provide guidance for physiotherapists providing care over the telephone.
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    Use, and acceptability, of digital health technologies in musculoskeletal physical therapy: A survey of physical therapists and patients
    Merolli, M ; Gray, K ; Choo, D ; Lawford, BJ ; Hinman, RS (WILEY, 2022-03-12)
    OBJECTIVES: Determine (a) frequency of digital health use to obtain/record clinical information (pre-COVID-19); (b) willingness to use digital technologies among physical therapists and patients with musculoskeletal conditions. METHODS: 102 physical therapists, and 103 patients were recruited in Australia. An electronic survey ascertained (a) demographic/clinical characteristics, (b) frequency of methods to obtain and record clinical information; (c) willingness to use digital technologies to support musculoskeletal care. RESULTS: Physical therapists mostly used non-digital methods to obtain subjective (e.g., face-to-face questioning, n = 98; 96.1%) and objective information (e.g., visual estimation, n = 95; 93.1%). The top three digital health technologies most frequently used by therapists: photo-based image capture (n = 19; 18.6%), accessing information logged/tracked by patients into a mobile app (n = 14; 13.7%), and electronic systems to capture subjective information that the patient fills in (n = 13; 12.7%). The top three technologies used by patients: activity trackers (n = 27; 26.2%), logging/tracking health information on mobile apps or websites (n = 12; 11.7%), and entering information on a computer (n = 12; 7.8%). Physical therapists were most willing to use technologies for: receiving diagnostic imaging results (n = 99; 97.1%), scheduling appointments (n = 92; 90.2%) and capturing diagnostic results (n = 92; 90.2%). Patients were most willing to use technologies for receiving notifications about health test results (n = 91; 88.4%), looking up health information (n = 83; 80.6%) and receiving personalised alerts/reminders (n = 80; 77.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Physical therapists and patients infrequently use digital health technologies to support musculoskeletal care, but expressed some willingness to consider using them for select functions.
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    Perceptions About the Efficacy and Acceptability of Telephone and Video-Delivered Allied Health Care for Adults With Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-sectional National Survey
    Lawford, BJ ; Hinman, RS ; Morello, R ; Oliver, K ; Spittle, A ; Bennell, KL (W B SAUNDERS CO-ELSEVIER INC, 2022-06-27)
    OBJECTIVE: To investigate and compare perceptions about the efficacy and acceptability of allied health care delivered via telephone and video call for adults with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: Cross-sectional national survey. SETTING: Participants who accessed occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, or speech pathology care via telephone or via video call from June to September 2020. PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred eighty-one adults with permanent or significant disabilities, or their carers, partners, or family members, who were funded by the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Experiences (eg, safety, efficacy, ease of use) with telephone and video-delivered care. Data were analyzed by calculating response proportions and chi-square tests to evaluate differences in experiences between allied health professions and between telephone and video modalities. RESULTS: Responses were obtained for 581 adults with disabilities. There was no evidence of differences between experiences with telephone or video-delivered services or across allied health professions. Overall, 47%-56% of respondents found telehealth technology easy to use (vs 17%-26% who found it difficult), 51%-55% felt comfortable communicating (vs 24%-27% who felt uncomfortable), 51%-67% were happy with the privacy and/or security (vs 6%-9% who were unhappy), 74% were happy with the safety (vs 5%-7% who were unhappy), and 56%-64% believed the care they received was effective (vs 17% who believed it was ineffective). Despite this, 48%-51% were unlikely to choose to use telephone or video consultations in the future (vs 32%-36% who were likely). CONCLUSIONS: Adults with disabilities in Australia had generally positive experiences receiving allied health care via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, although some experienced difficulties using and communicating via the technology. Findings indicated no differences between satisfaction with telephone or video modalities, or between physiotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, or psychology services.
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    An international core capability framework for physiotherapists to deliver quality care via videoconferencing: a Delphi study
    Davies, L ; Hinman, RS ; Russell, T ; Lawford, B ; Bennell, K (AUSTRALIAN PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSOC, 2021-10-01)
    QUESTION: What are the core capabilities that physiotherapists need in order to deliver quality care via videoconferencing? DESIGN: A three-round modified e-Delphi survey. PARTICIPANTS: An international Delphi panel comprising a Steering Group and experts in the field, including physiotherapy researchers, physiotherapy clinicians, representatives of physiotherapy organisations, and consumers. METHODS: The draft framework was developed by the research team and Steering Group, based on relevant documents identified within the literature. The panel considered a draft framework of 73 specific capabilities mapped across eight domains. Over three rounds, panellists rated their agreement (Likert or numerical rating scales) on whether each capability was essential (core) for physiotherapists to deliver quality care via videoconferencing. Those capabilities achieving consensus, defined as 75% of the panel ratings being ≥ 7 out of 10 in Round 3, were retained. RESULTS: A total of 130 panellists from 32 countries participated in Round 1, with retention rates of 65% and 60% in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively. The final framework comprised 60 capabilities across seven domains: compliance (n = 7 capabilities); patient privacy and confidentiality (n = 4); patient safety (n = 7); technology skills (n = 7); telehealth delivery (n = 16); assessment and diagnosis (n = 7); and care planning and management (n = 12). CONCLUSION: This framework outlines the specific core capabilities required of physiotherapists to provide quality care via videoconferencing. The core capability framework provides guidance for physiotherapists to deliver care via videoconferencing and will help inform future development of physiotherapy curricula and professional development initiatives in the delivery of telehealth.
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    Physiotherapists and patients report positive experiences overall with telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic: a mixed-methods study
    Bennell, KL ; Lawford, BJ ; Metcalf, B ; Mackenzie, D ; Russell, T ; van den Berg, M ; Finnin, K ; Crowther, S ; Aiken, J ; Fleming, J ; Hinman, RS (AUSTRALIAN PHYSIOTHERAPY ASSOC, 2021-06-28)
    QUESTION: What were the experiences of physiotherapists and patients who consulted via videoconference during the COVID-19 pandemic and how was it implemented? DESIGN: Mixed methods study with cross-sectional national online surveys and qualitative analysis of free-text responses. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 207 physiotherapists in private practice or community settings and 401 patients aged ≥ 18 years who consulted (individual and/or group) via videoconference from April to November 2020. METHODS: Separate customised online surveys were developed for physiotherapists and patients. Data were collected regarding the implementation of videoconferencing (cost, software used) and experience with videoconferencing (perceived effectiveness, safety, ease of use and comfort communicating, each scored on a 4-point ordinal scale). Qualitative content analysis was performed of physiotherapists' free-text responses about perceived facilitators, barriers and safety issues. RESULTS: Physiotherapists gave moderate-to-high ratings for the effectiveness of and their satisfaction with videoconferencing. Most intended to continue to offer individual consultations (81%) and group classes (60%) via videoconferencing beyond the pandemic. For individual consultations and group classes, respectively, most patients had moderately or extremely positive perceptions about ease of technology use (94%, 91%), comfort communicating (96%, 86%), satisfaction with management (92%, 93%), satisfaction with privacy/security (98%, 95%), safety (99% both) and effectiveness (83%, 89%). Compared with 68% for group classes, 47% of patients indicated they were moderately or extremely likely to choose videoconferencing for individual consultations in the future. Technology was predominant as both a facilitator and barrier. Falls risk was the main safety factor. CONCLUSION: Patients and physiotherapists had overall positive experiences using videoconferencing for individual consultations and group classes. The results suggest that videoconferencing is a viable option for the delivery of physiotherapy care in the future.
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    Digital Health Interventions in Physiotherapy: Development of Client and Health Care Provider Survey Instruments
    Merolli, M ; Hinman, RS ; Lawford, BJ ; Choo, D ; Gray, K (JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC, 2021-07-01)
    BACKGROUND: The advancement of digital health has widened the scope of technology use across multiple frontiers of health care services, including personalized therapeutics, mobile health, eHealth record management, and telehealth consultations. The World Health Organization (WHO) responded to this in 2018 by publishing an inaugural broad classification framework of digital health interventions (DHIs) used to address contemporary health system needs. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to describe the systematic development of dual survey instruments (clinician and patient) to support data collection, administered in a physiotherapy setting, about perceptions toward DHIs. This is achieved by adapting the WHO framework classification for DHIs for application in real-world research. METHODS: Using a qualitative item review approach, WHO DHI descriptors were adapted and refined systematically to be used in a survey form. This approach was designed to align with the processes of delivering and receiving care in clinical practice, using musculoskeletal physiotherapy as a practical case scenario. RESULTS: Complementary survey instruments (for health care providers and clients) were developed by adapting descriptor items. These instruments will be used in a larger study exploring the willingness of physiotherapists and patients to use digital technologies in the management of musculoskeletal conditions. CONCLUSIONS: This study builds on the WHO-standardized DHI framework. We developed dual novel survey instruments by adapting and refining the functions of DHIs. These may be deployed to explore the perceived usefulness and application of DHIs for different clinical care functions. Researchers may wish to use these survey instruments to examine digital health use systematically in a variety of clinical fields or technology scenarios in a way that is standardized and generalizable.
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    "I Could Do It in My Own Time and When I Really Needed It": Perceptions of Online Pain Coping Skills Training For People With Knee Osteoarthritis
    Lawford, BJ ; Hinman, RS ; Nelligan, RK ; Keefe, F ; Rini, C ; Bennell, KL (WILEY, 2020-12-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To qualitatively explore the perceptions and experiences of people with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who used an online automated pain coping skills training program (PCST). METHODS: This was a descriptive qualitative study (based on interpretivist methodology) embedded within a randomized controlled trial. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 people with knee OA who had participated in an 8-week automated online PCST program while also receiving exercise advice and support from a physical therapist via Skype. Interviews in this study focused specifically on the online PCST program, rather than the physical therapy component. Interviews were audiorecorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed. RESULTS: Five themes arose: 1) easy to understand and follow (clearly explained, presented well), 2) better able to cope with pain (controlling pain, helping relax, pacing self, incorporating skills into exercise program), 3) anonymity and flexibility (no judgement by clinician, work at own pace, accessibility), 4) not always relatable or engaging (some techniques not useful, Americanization of the program, annoying character examples, time consuming and slow-paced), and 5) support from clinician desirable (follow-up from a clinician would be beneficial, worked in tandem with physical therapist-prescribed exercise, desire referral to the program by a trusted source). CONCLUSION: People with knee OA had generally positive experiences using an online PCST program, suggesting that online PCST is a broadly acceptable and accessible way to help people with OA to manage their pain. User engagement may be enhanced by redesigning some aspects of the program and by provision of support from a clinician.
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    Challenges With Strengthening Exercises for Individuals With Knee Osteoarthritis and Comorbid Obesity: A Qualitative Study With Patients and Physical Therapists
    Lawford, BJ ; Bennell, KL ; Allison, K ; Schwartz, S ; Hinman, RS (WILEY, 2021-12-20)
    OBJECTIVE: To explore challenges associated with implementing a home-based strengthening exercise program for individuals with knee osteoarthritis and comorbid obesity. METHODS: This is a qualitative study embedded within a randomized controlled trial comparing 2 home-based strengthening programs (weight-bearing functional exercise versus non-weight-bearing quadriceps strengthening exercise) for individuals with knee osteoarthritis and comorbid obesity. Patients in both exercise programs attended 5 consultations with a physical therapist and undertook a home-based exercise program for 12 weeks. After trial completion, semistructured individual telephone interviews were conducted with 22 patients and all 7 physical therapists who delivered trial interventions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed using an inductive approach. RESULTS: Three themes arose: 1) psychological challenges (false assumptions about exercise; fear of pain; disliking exercise; mental effort of the weight-bearing functional program; underestimating capability); 2) physical challenges (complexity of the weight-bearing functional program; cuff weights and straight leg raise being problematic in non-weight-bearing quadriceps program; other health conditions); and 3) overcoming challenges (incentives to exercise; accountability; education and reassurance; tailoring the exercise program). CONCLUSION: Patients and physical therapists experienced numerous psychological and physical challenges to exercise, including a fear of pain, having false assumptions about exercise, difficulties with exercise performance, application of cuff weights, and adverse impacts of other health conditions.
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    Patient experiences with physiotherapy for knee osteoarthritis in Australia-a qualitative study
    Teo, PL ; Bennell, KL ; Lawford, B ; Egerton, T ; Dziedzic, K ; Hinman, RS (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2021-01-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Physiotherapists commonly provide non-surgical care for people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). It is unknown if patients are receiving high-quality physiotherapy care for their knee OA. This study aimed to explore the experiences of people who had recently received physiotherapy care for their knee OA in Australia and how these experiences aligned with the national Clinical Care Standard for knee OA. DESIGN: Qualitative study using semistructured individual telephone interviews and thematic analysis, where themes/subthemes were inductively derived. Questions were informed by seven quality statements of the OA of the Knee Clinical Care Standard. Interview data were also deductively analysed according to the Standard. SETTING: Participants were recruited from around Australia via Facebook and our research volunteer database. PARTICIPANTS: Interviews were conducted with 24 people with recent experience receiving physiotherapy care for their knee OA. They were required to be aged 45 years or above, had activity-related knee pain and any knee-related morning stiffness lasted no longer than 30 min. Participants were excluded if they had self-reported inflammatory arthritis and/or had undergone knee replacement surgery for the affected knee. RESULTS: Six themes emerged: (1) presented with a pre-existing OA diagnosis (prior OA care from other health professionals; perception of adequate OA knowledge); (2) wide variation in access and provision of physiotherapy care (referral pathways; funding models; individual vs group sessions); (3) seeking physiotherapy care for pain and functional limitations (knee symptoms; functional problems); (4) physiotherapy management focused on function and exercise (assessment of function; various types of exercises prescribed; surgery, medications and injections are for doctors; adjunctive treatments); (5) professional and personalised care (trust and/or confidence; personalised care) and (6) physiotherapy to postpone or prepare for surgery. CONCLUSION: Patients' experiences with receiving physiotherapy care for their knee OA were partly aligned with the standard, particularly regarding comprehensive assessment, self-management, and exercise.