A telehealth curriculum: A pre-post study of physiotherapy students’ perceived knowledge, self-efficacy and intentions for future use
Keywords:telehealth curriculum, pre-professional training, physiotherapy, self-efficacy, intentions for future use
Introduction: With the ever-increasing adoption of telehealth into clinical practice, the need for physiotherapists to be competent with these technologies is paramount. Given the lack of literature detailing effective approaches to prepare physiotherapists for telehealth practice, a telehealth curriculum has been designed, implemented and evaluated in an Australian physiotherapy program. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the telehealth curriculum on the perceived knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and future intentions of physiotherapy students.
Methods: A cohort study was undertaken, with two research arms: 1) a pre- and post-test self-report survey of perceived knowledge, skills and self-efficacy against empirically derived telehealth competencies and 2) focus groups exploring effects of the curriculum on students’ perceptions of telehealth and intentions for future use. Participants undertook a telehealth curriculum, including 19 hours of online modules and 6 hours of accompanying simulations. The curriculum was specific to the practice of telehealth in physiotherapy and aimed to provide knowledge and skills about telehealth fundamentals, technology and use in practice.
Results: From an eligible 117 participants, complete and matched pre-post surveys were obtained from 72 students (61.5%) and eight of these 72 students participated in focus groups. All six telehealth competencies were significantly higher following the intervention (p < 0.001). From the focus group data, two themes were generated: perceptions of telehealth following the curriculum and feedback regarding the curriculum structure.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates positive impacts of a telehealth curriculum involving online content and simulations on physiotherapy student perceived knowledge, skills and self-efficacy aligned with telehealth competencies. The study further supports the integration of telehealth curricula in pre-professional healthcare training.
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