The health service impact of an occupational therapy practice placement model: Student-resourced service delivery of groups
Keywords:program evaluation, students, occupational therapy, student-resourced service delivery, rehabilitation services
Introduction: Student-resourced service delivery of groups is a practice education placement model in which students deliver therapy to groups, with graded supervision. This study examined an application of this model in occupational therapy to determine its costs to the health service and impact on hospital rehabilitation throughput and patient outcomes.
Methods: Retrospectively collected data were compared between periods when groups were student-resourced and staff-resourced. Patient data were analysed separately to group data.
Results: Seventeen patients received staff-resourced group therapy, and 52 patients received student-resourced group therapy, with no statistically significant differences identified in the characteristics of patients between group types. There was no evidence student-resourced therapy was associated with change in patient rehabilitation outcomes or length of rehabilitation stay.
Student-resourced therapy groups had an average duration of 10.8 minutes per session shorter (95% CI: 3.7, 18.0 P: 0.002) than staff-resourced groups. Under the student-resourced groups placement model, mean clinician time per group—both direct patient time and time spent on group facilitation—was not adversely affected and was reduced for occupational therapy assistants’ direct time (mean difference -7.6 minutes, 95% CI: 0.8, -16.0 P: 0.04) and for occupational therapists’ indirect time (mean difference -30.28 minutes 95% CI: -1.0, -59.6 P:0.02). Despite an implied mean cost savings per group of $49.61 under the student-resourced model, there was no evidence of any statistically significant impact on overall costs.
Conclusions: Student-resourced service delivery of rehabilitation groups provide an opportunity for student practice education placements and do not appear to negatively impact occupational therapists’ time, costs or patient outcomes.
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