Melody M. Burrage, University of Southern Mississippi


The purpose of this study was to assess healthcare providers’ perceptions, attitudes, and knowledge of occupational therapy telehealth services in rural areas of Mississippi. The results of the study have the potential to impact patients’ awareness of alternative methods to receiving occupational therapy and increase healthcare providers’ referral to occupational therapy telehealth services in rural Mississippi. Rural healthcare providers in Mississippi were surveyed. Of the 165 remote connections identified on the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s telehealth website, 48 were selected for the study. An additional eight healthcare providers were recruited through contact from the Mississippi Office of Rural Health. A 26-item survey was emailed to the selected 56 rural healthcare providers. A follow-up reminder email was sent three weeks after the initial email to remind participants to complete the survey. Of the identified 56 healthcare providers, 30 responded to the survey, a 54% response rate.

Three themes emerged from this research: telehealth practical usage, experience with telehealth, and occupational therapy telerehabilitation. Analysis of the responses indicated that nursing and rehabilitation therapists were more interested in learning more about telehealth. Nursing tends to use telecommunication equipment more frequently for patient care than other medical disciplines. The consensus of all healthcare practitioners was that telehealth can be beneficial in saving time and money, can increase access of healthcare for a continuum of care, and can improve the quality of care services in rural areas. The information derived from this capstone project can serve as a catalyst to increase the implementation of telerehabilitation services in rural Mississippi.