What factors influence technology use in clinical rehabilitation? A multi-site international focus group study

Dr Kelly Bower1, Dr  Michele  Verdonck2, Dr Anita Hamilton2, Dr Gavin  Williams1,3, Dr Ross Clark2

1University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia, 2University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Australia, 3Epworth HealthCare, Richmond, Australia


To investigate factors influencing technology use by occupational therapists and physiotherapists working in neurorehabilitation.

A qualitative focus group study was undertaken in urban and regional locations in Australia and Singapore. Three 60-minute focus groups were conducted via videoconferencing. Each group comprised three purposively selected physiotherapists and three occupational therapists (n = 18) working across different neurorehabilitation settings. Participants were asked to discuss: technology used in their workplace for physical assessment and treatment, barriers and motivators to use, and future desires. Transcripts were analysed independently by two researchers using an inductive approach to generate codes and themes and confirmed by a third researcher.

Data analysis resulted in the identification of five major themes: 1) value, 2) complexity, 3) access, 4) user attributes; and 5) organisational factors. The findings highlighted the need for technology to be reliable, accessible, effective and able to be used without direct supervision. Barriers to technology included complexity, convenience and cost. Technology use was influenced by the client and therapist attributes and organisation factors such as resourcing and institutional culture.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
The themes identified multiple and interlinking factors influencing clinicians’ use of technology in neurorehabilitation settings. While value was the key driver of technology use, this needed to take into consideration the characteristics of the technology, individual users and organisational context. These findings have implications for successful technology implementation and future development.


Dr Kelly Bower is a physiotherapy clinician, researcher and lecturer. She completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2016. She has extensive clinical experience, primarily working in neurorehabilitation at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Her research has mainly focused on the use of technologies for physical assessment and treatment following stroke. Kelly is currently working in the Physiotherapy Department at the University of Melbourne.