The objective of this scoping review was to map research in the use of digital technologies in occupational therapy and physiotherapy education in terms of the type of digital technology used, how the digital technology is applied, and the author-reported outcomes of digital technology use.
The ubiquitous nature of digital technology has influenced higher education, offering benefits of integrating digital technologies into curricula. However, the extent of the application of digital technologies in higher education in occupational therapy and physiotherapy warrants investigation. This scoping review mapped the reported applications of digital technology in both undergraduate and postgraduate occupational therapy and physiotherapy education.
Research studies on the use of digital technology in undergraduate and/or postgraduate education in occupational therapy and/or physiotherapy were considered for inclusion in this scoping review.
A comprehensive search strategy using multiple databases was employed to find relevant studies. Keywords and the derivatives of “digital technology,” “education,” “occupational therapy” and “physiotherapy” were used. The databases searched included MEDLINE via PubMed, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), EBSCOhost Education Research Complete, EBSCOhost ERIC, EBSCOhost MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost CINAHL Complete, OT Database, OT Seeker and Scopus. Google Scholar was also searched. The filter “humans” was applied, where possible. Peer-reviewed qualitative and quantitative research studies were considered for inclusion. Owing to the rapid development of technologies, studies that were published from January 2013 to April 2019 were included. This review only included papers available in English. The relevant studies and their reported outcomes were organized and analyzed thematically.
The initial search yielded 2853 articles. Title, abstract and full-text review yielded 52 suitable papers meeting criteria. The final data set represented 4038 participants. Data were analyzed according to three main categories, namely, type of technology used, application of digital technology and author-reported outcomes. The review showed that occupational therapy and physiotherapy educators have used a wide variety of digital technologies, including quizzes, videos, social media, learning management systems and content repositories. Digital technologies have been applied in a range of learning and teaching contexts, including feedback and assessment, clinical skills and techniques, professional behaviors, clinical reasoning and fieldwork supervision. Author-reported outcomes varied between studies and were associated with student factors (e.g. anxiety, self-efficacy), technical difficulties when implementing digital technology, as well as financial costs.
A wide variety of digital technologies can support learning and teaching across many contexts in occupational therapy and physiotherapy education. Technology should not be used in isolation and must be aligned to the proposed learning outcomes. Studies highlight the need for face-to-face contact with lecturers and fellow students in addition to the use of digital technology.