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Efficacy of STEPS Telehealth project

Description
The expansion of telehealth approaches over the past decade has resulted in greater accessibility to health services and improved health outcomes, especially for people living in rural and remote locations. Furthermore, numerous studies have highlighted the economic benefits of telehealth approaches for the broader health system.

The Skills To Enable People and CommunitieS (STEPS) Program is an information, support and skills based group-program for adults with ABI and their family members

While the STEPS Program has been successful in offering face-to-face groups in many smaller towns such as Biloela, Innisfail, Roma and Mt Isa; the vast distance between people in rural and remote communities has limited their ability to engage in the program.

Telehealth approaches (e.g., videoconferencing) may provide an effective strategy to enhance participation and outcomes for adults with ABI and their families in rural and remote communities throughout Queensland. Additionally, telehealth approaches offer unique opportunities to enhance networking, training and support opportunities for the geographically dispersed peer-professional workforce of the STEPS Program.

Rationale
The application of telehealth approaches for rehabilitation after ABI extends to various areas of intervention including: post-discharge follow-up support; retraining; speech and language interventions; and family/caregiver support. However, to date, little is known about the efficacy of telehealth for the delivery of group-based interventions in the community after ABI.

Participants
Individuals with ABI and their family members involved in STEPS Skills Program

Key Features and Anticipated Outcomes
The project aimed to examine the efficacy of home-based telehealth technology in the delivery of the 6-week STEPS Skills Program to adults with ABI and their families in rural and remote communities throughout Queensland.

The findings of the study will directly impact upon service provision for adults with ABI and their families who live in rural and remote locations of Queensland. An enhanced understanding of the application and effectiveness of telehealth approaches for the delivery of the STEPS Program will enable greater access, participation and outcomes for people with ABI and their family members in rural and remote locations throughout Queensland.

Funding
This project was funded under a Community Rehabilitation Workforce Project Research and Development Grant.

Research / Evaluation Strategies
The effectiveness of delivering the 6-week STEPS Skills Program via videoconference to people with ABI and their families in rural and remote locations of Queensland was evaluated against a control group of participants who complete the STEPS Skills Program via the usual face-to-face delivery method.  A series of standardised questionnaires was completed at two time points: (1) during the month prior to the group commencing; and (2) during the month immediately following their completion of the program. Interviews were be conducted following completion of the program

Outputs and Outcomes
The current study has highlighted the potential benefits and emerging efficacy of home-based telehealth technology in the delivery of the 6-week STEPS Skills Program for adults with ABI and their families.

While the current findings indicated that face-to-face/in-person delivery of the STEPS Program was typically more successful than telehealth delivery, the results provide evidence to justify further development of telehealth platforms as a means to enhance equity of service access and outcomes for individuals with ABI and their families in community settings.  Importantly, videoconferencing technology was found to provide the optimal platform for telehealth delivery of group-based programs. However, advances are needed with respect to connectivity to enhance quality (i.e., audio and visual) and reliability; and thereby enable participant engagement within the group environment.

Publications
There are no publications to date for this research.



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Last updated: 7 September 2017