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Persons With Dementia and Their Caregivers' Perceptions About Occupational Therapy and Telehealth: A Qualitative Descriptive Study

Nissen, Ranelle M., PhD, OTR/L; Hersch, Gayle, PhD, OTR; Tietze, Mari, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS; Chang, Pei-Fen J., PhD, OTR

doi: 10.1097/NHH.0000000000000697
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Occupational therapy (OT) services provided in the home to a person with dementia can decrease caregiver burden by targeting home modifications, functional performance, and safety. One method to deliver these services is through telehealth. The use of telehealth is expanding rapidly, but there is a current lack of evidence to support the use of telehealth to deliver OT services to persons with dementia. The purpose of this study was to identify the perceptions of persons with dementia and their caregivers about the use of telehealth to receive OT services. A qualitative descriptive design was used. Results provided themes in three domains: dementia journey, skills for technology use, and perceptions of OT. Each participant identified a unique journey through awareness, challenges, and adaptive strategies as they adjusted to a life with dementia. The skills for technology focused on current usage and perceptions about technology. Participants had limited knowledge of OT but did appreciate the role it has in dementia care. The themes identified in the study provide support for further exploration of the use of telehealth in OT for persons with dementia and their caregivers.

Ranelle M. Nissen, PhD, OTR/L, is an Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Department, University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota.

Gayle Hersch, PhD, OTR, is a Professor Emerita, School of Occupational Therapy, Texas Woman's University, Houston, Texas.

Mari Tietze, PhD, RN-BC, FHIMSS, is a Professor, College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University, Dallas, Texas.

Pei-Fen J. Chang, PhD, OTR, is an Associate Professor, School of Occupational Therapy, Texas Woman's University, Houston, Texas.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Address for correspondence: Ranelle M. Nissen, PhD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapy Department, University of South Dakota, 414 E. Clark Street, Vermillion, SD 57069 (Ranelle.Nissen@usd.edu).

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