Utilising telehealth to support exercise and physical activity in people with Parkinson disease: a program evaluation using mixed methods

Allyson Flynn, Elisabeth Preston, Sarah Dennis, Colleen G. Canning, Natalie Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
Physical activity and exercise play a key role in managing Parkinson disease. This study aimed to: 1) determine if physiotherapy supported by telehealth helped people with Parkinson disease (PwP) to adhere to a home-based exercise program and maintain their physical activity; and 2) understand their experiences of using telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods
A mixed methods program evaluation involving a retrospective file audit from a student-run physiotherapy clinic and semi-structured interviews exploring participants’ experiences of telehealth. Ninety-six people with mild to moderate disease received home-based telehealth physiotherapy for 21 weeks. The primary outcome was adherence to the prescribed exercise program. Secondary outcomes were measures of physical activity. Interviews were conducted with 13 clients and seven students and analysed thematically.

Results
Adherence to the prescribed exercise program was high. The mean (SD) proportion of prescribed sessions completed was 108% (46%). On average clients spent 29 (12) minutes per session, and 101 (55) minutes per week exercising. Physical activity levels were maintained, with clients taking 11,226 (4,832) steps per day on entry to telehealth, and 11,305 (4,390) steps per day on exit from telehealth. The semi-structured interviews identified important features of a telehealth service required to support exercise; a flexible approach of clients and therapists, empowerment, feedback, a therapeutic relationship, and mode of delivery.

Conclusions
PwP were able to continue exercising at home and maintain their physical activity when physiotherapy was provided via telehealth. The flexible approach of both the client and the service was imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Article number224
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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