Sustainable support solutions for community-based rehabilitation workers in refugee camps: Piloting telehealth acceptability and implementation

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Abstract

Background: The lack of training and education of Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) workers poses one of the most significant barriers to receiving effective occupational, physical and speech therapy for individuals with disabilities in Low-to-Middle Income Countries (LMIC), especially in countries with significant refugee populations. The aim of this study was to successfully implement a telehealth support system for CBR workers, evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of this intervention's implementation among CBR workers in the CBR setting, and further identify strategies to address the deficit of skilled rehabilitation workers in LMIC through technological intervention. Methods: This pilot study included CBR workers and CBR managers to inform feasibility, acceptability, and sustainable implementation. The RE-AIM and Dynamic Sustainability Framework were incorporated to guide procedural design, survey development, data collection, data evaluation, and increase success of telehealth implementation. CBR workers participate in trainings, telehealth sessions, surveys and focus groups to inform feasibility and acceptability. CBR Managers participated in focus groups to inform feasibility and sustainable implementation. NVIVO 12 Software was utilized to develop themes from CBR worker and CBR manager responses. Results: Findings from this study demonstrate the need for additional training support for CBR workers in CBR settings throughout the entire treatment process. The telehealth system demonstrated successful short-term implementation across several domains of feasibility. Telehealth utilization was also proven acceptable, appropriate and necessary. Cultural beliefs, CBR worker training, and CBR Center infrastructure pose the most significant barriers to implementation of telehealth technologies in CBR Centers. CBR workers and managers confirmed the demand for future telehealth-based support systems, strengthening effort towards sustainability and scale-up. Conclusions: Telehealth can be utilized to support CBR workers that serve vulnerable and marginalized populations, and in turn improve the global health status among refugee populations by reducing inequitable access to quality health care. The results support the need for further research to rigorously evaluate effectiveness of telehealth interventions to support CBR workers.

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Mitchell-Gillespie, B., Hashim, H., Griffin, M., & Alheresh, R. (2020). Sustainable support solutions for community-based rehabilitation workers in refugee camps: Piloting telehealth acceptability and implementation. Globalization and Health, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00614-y

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