Occupational therapists must adopt telehealth practices as a supplement to in-person occupational therapy to avoid service disruption in times of crisis. This requires legislation and public promotion, clear strategies and guidelines for health service managers, and finally, training and continuous support for end-users.
Explanation and Examples
A global online needs-assessment survey among occupational therapists was undertaken to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on telehealth practices in occupational therapy worldwide and to get insight into facilitators and barriers in utilising this form of service delivery. The survey was circulated in the occupational therapy community by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) between April and July 2020, collecting responses to closed-ended questions, in addition to free-text comments. 2750 individual responses from 100 countries were received. The results revealed a significant increase in the use of telehealth strategies during COVID-19, with many reported benefits. Occupational therapists who used telehealth were more likely to score higher feelings of safety and positive work morale and perceived their employer’s expectations to be reasonable. Restricted access to technology, limitations of remote practice, funding issues and slow pace of change were identified as barriers for some respondents to utilising telehealth. Facilitators included availability of supportive policy, guidelines and strategies, in addition to education and training.
ThemesAccessibility COVID-19 Implementation Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Occupational therapy
Target groupsOccupational therapy educators & organizations Policymakers
Type of evidence
An online global needs-assessment survey among occupational therapists worldwide.
Hoel V, von Zweck C, Ledgerd R. Was a global pandemic needed to adopt the use of telehealth in occupational therapy? Work. (2020). doi.org/10.3233/wor-205268
Hoel V, von Zweck C, Ledgerd R. The impact of Covid-19 for occupational therapy: Findings and recommendations of a global survey. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin. (2021) 1-8. doi.org/10.1080/14473828.2020.1855044