Objectives To explore patients’ perceptions regarding prospective telerehabilitation services and the factors that facilitate or impede patients’ intentions to use these services.
Design Using semi-structured interviews, patients reflected on the pros and cons of various scenarios of prospective telerehabilitation services. Patients’ arguments were first arranged according to the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT). Next, using inductive analysis, the data for each UTAUT component were analysed and arranged into subthemes.
Setting and participants Twenty-five chronic pain patients were selected from a rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands.
Results Overall, participants considered telerehabilitation helpful as a complementary or follow-up treatment, rather than an autonomous treatment. Arguments mainly related to the UTAUT constructs of ‘performance expectancy’ and ‘facilitating conditions’. Patients valued the benefits such as reduced transportation barriers, flexible exercise hours and the possibility to better integrate skills into daily life. However, many patients feared a loss of treatment motivation and expressed concerns about both reduced fellow sufferer contact and reduced face-to-face therapist contact. Few arguments related to ‘social norms’ and ‘effort expectancy’.
Conclusions The effect of telerehabilitation on healthcare strongly depends on patients’ willingness to use. Our study showed that chronic pain patients valued the benefits of telerehabilitation but hesitate to use it as an autonomous treatment. Therefore, future initiatives should maintain traditional care to some degree and focus on patients’ attitudes as well. Either by giving information to increase patients’ confidence in telerehabilitation or by addressing reported drawbacks into the future design of these services. Further quantitative studies are needed to explore patients’ intentions to use telerehabilitation.