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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-55

The use of smartphones and physiotherapy-related applications for health information among clinical physiotherapists


1 Department of Physiotherapy, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State, Nigeria
2 Department of Physiotherapy, Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido-Ekiti, Nigeria

Date of Submission14-Dec-2020
Date of Decision11-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance17-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication31-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Samuel Olufemi Bolarinde
Department of Physiotherapy, Federal Medical Centre, Owo, Ondo State
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijptr.ijptr_46_20

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  Abstract 


Context: The advent of smartphone armed with various downloadable “apps” has created a new wealth of clinical resources available to various healthcare professionals. However, the level of usage of physiotherapy-related applications for health information among clinical physiotherapists in Nigeria needs to be investigated.
Aim: The aim of the study is to investigate the use of smartphones and physiotherapy-related applications for health information among clinical physiotherapists.
Settings and Design: This was an observational study conducted on clinical Physiotherapist of Ondo and Ekiti State, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: The study recruited 48 physiotherapists from government-owned hospitals in Ondo and Ekiti State. Data on demographic characteristics, work experience, knowledge, and the use of physiotherapy-related applications for health information were obtained using a self-administered
questionnaire. Data were summarized using a descriptive statistics of percentage and frequency distribution.
Statistical Analysis used : Descriptive statistics of percentages and frequency table was used.
Results: Forty-eight physiotherapists participated in this study. All the (100%) participants own smartphones, however, only 50% (24) have heard about physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. Twenty-five percent (12) of respondents have physiotherapy-related smartphone applications on their smartphones, 43.8% (21) are not aware of the availability of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications, while 27.0% (13) never explore the possibilities. About 70.8% (34) recommended the development of various physiotherapy-related smartphone applications, while 79.2% (38) recommended that the usage of smartphone for health information during a consultation should be avoided to avoid loss of professional image before patients.
Conclusion: Majority of physiotherapists are not aware of physiotherapy-related smartphones applications hence its usage for health care information is very low.

Keywords: Health-information, physiotherapy, smartphones-application


How to cite this article:
Bolarinde SO, Olasoji OB, Ibidunmoye OD. The use of smartphones and physiotherapy-related applications for health information among clinical physiotherapists. Indian J Phys Ther Res 2021;3:51-5

How to cite this URL:
Bolarinde SO, Olasoji OB, Ibidunmoye OD. The use of smartphones and physiotherapy-related applications for health information among clinical physiotherapists. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 21];3:51-5. Available from: https://www.ijptr.org/text.asp?2021/3/1/51/322920




  Introduction Top


The global advancement in information and technology has led to the development of smartphonesa handheld electronic devices armed with different applications that connect the users instantly to the world, allow access to information, and enable interactivity with others.[1] This modern development in technology has allowed health professionals to begin to deliver healthcare in a new fashion. More recently, mobile Health (mHealth) has come into play, which refers to the concept of using mobile devices, such as phones, tablets, and smartphones in both medicine and public health. mHealth has since been seen as an enabler of change worldwide because of its high reach and low-cost solutions.[2]

The use of smartphone for medical information among health care professionals has changed from the use of text-based information to technology-based practice and more specifically smartphone-based applications which has the potential to have a positive impact upon patient care. Specifically, by providing health personnel with instant access to medical and health information which can lead to improved decision-making and reduced numbers of diagnostic and therapeutic errors, thereby increasing safety and efficiency of health care,[3],[4] improved communication between hospital medical staff[5] and enhanced telemedicine capability.[6],[7]

The availability of various application stores such as Apple Store, Google play store, and other dedicated websites from which health care professionals can download field-related applications either for free or at a price has increased the rate at which health professionals can access clinical information for effective service delivery.[8],[9] Physiotherapy is one of the health care professions concerned with the care of patients. Physiotherapist provides treatment to individuals to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and functional ability throughout a person's lifespan.[10],[11]

In rehabilitating patients toward the restoration of activities of daily living, therapeutic compliance has been a topic of clinical concern due to the widespread nature of noncompliance with therapy and rehabilitation programs among patients.[12] In search for solution to the problems of noncompliance among physiotherapy patients, it was proposed that the development of physiotherapy-related smartphones applications can provide a new and emerging way to deliver physiotherapy that promotes active participation from both the physiotherapist and patient throughout treatment thereby improve therapeutic outcomes.[13]

Various physiotherapy-related smartphone applications have been developed to aid physiotherapists in effective care of patients. Some of these applications are categorized into: physiotherapy applications for patients; physiotherapy exercise application for home rehabilitation and physiotherapy application for staff and students.[14] Physiotherapy-related applications are available at various websites, specific among these applications are Physiotract, 2014; PT Pal, 2015; myPhysio App, 2015; and Physioadvisor 2015.[13]

There seems to be paucity of studies that investigated the use of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications among physiotherapists in Nigeria. The aim of this study was to identify the level of awareness of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications among Nigerian physiotherapists; level of usage of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications for health information among Nigerian physiotherapists.

[TAG:2]Materials and Methods [/TAG:2]

The cross-sectional study recruited 48 physiotherapists from government-owned hospitals in Ondo and Ekiti State, South western Nigeria. The study protocol was approved by the Health Research Ethics Committee of Federal Medical Centre, Owo (FMC/OW/380/LXX1/174). The survey instrument for the study was three parts, self-administered questionnaire. Part A consisted of the demographic and work experience data of participants. Part B sought information on knowledge of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications while part C was on the usage of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. Data obtained were summarized using Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) (Nie N.H, Bent D.H, and Hull C.H, IBM. New York 2009) version 20.0 software. Descriptive statistics of percentages and frequency table was used to present the results.


  Results Top


A total of 48 physiotherapists participated in this study. Thirty-five (72.9%) were male, wheras 13 (27.1%) were female. Twenty-seven (56.3%) of the participants were singles, whereas 21 (43.8%) were married. The age group with the highest frequency was 21–25 years (25.0%) followed by 26–30 years (22.9%) and 36–40 years (20.8%), while ages 51–55 years had the least frequency (2.1%). Majority of the respondents 42 (87.5%) are Bachelor degree holders, while only 6 (12.5%) had Master degree. Larger proportion of the participants 28 (58.3%) had between 1 and 5 years of clinical work experience, followed by 11–15 years of work experience 9 (18.8%) while only 1 (2.1%) participant had worked between 15 and 20 years as physiotherapist. Nineteen (39.6%) of the participants specializes in Orthopedics, 12 (25.0%) in neurology, 9 (18.8%) in pediatrics, 6 (12.5%) in women's health, and 2 (4.2%) in cardiopulmonary. Eleven (22.9%) of participants are in physiotherapists' cader, 5 (10.4%) senior physiotherapists, 9 (18.8%) principal physiotherapists, while only 2 (4.2%) are deputy/director of physiotherapy. The demographic characteristics and job history are presented in [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristics of respondents

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The result of respondents' knowledge of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications is presented in [Table 2]. The result shows that 40 (83.3%) of the respondents knew about medical-related smartphone application while only 12 (25.0%) have physiotherapy-related smartphone applications on their phones.
Table 2: Knowledge of smartphones physiotherapy-related application

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Participants' responses on the use of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications are presented in [Table 3]. Among those that have physiotherapy-related smartphone applications, none use the application daily, 5 (41.7%) used the applications twice a week, 4 (33.3%) once weekly, while 3 (25.0%) uses the application as the need arises. The result also revealed that 21 (43.8%) of the population did not use the application because they were never aware of the availability of such application, 13 (27.0%) never explore its usage. Nine (18.8%) of the participants have discussed with colleagues about the usage of the application while only 6 (12.5%) had shared the application with colleagues. Majority of the participants 34 (70.8%) however supported the development of more physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. Regarding the use of smartphones application during clinical consultation, 38 (79.2%) agreed that usage of smartphones in front of patients during consultation could reduce patients' trust and confidence in the physiotherapist, while 34 (70.8%) agreed that physiotherapists should avoid the use of smartphones in front of patients during consultation.
Table 3: Use of smartphone physiotherapy-related application

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  Discussion Top


This study was conducted to assess the use of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications among physiotherapists. The study found that all the participants owned a smartphone, this is in line with previous relevant studies where almost all the participants owned a smartphones.[15],[16] The findings of the study show that only half (50.0%) of the clinical physiotherapists are aware of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications while only one quarter (25.0%) have physiotherapy-related smartphone applications on their smartphone. These findings showed that many physiotherapists are not aware of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. It also showed that among those that are aware only few have and use the application. Although there seem to be no previous studies among working physiotherapists with which to compare the result of this study, however, the findings of the present study seem to contradict the findings by Nidhi and Pratibha,[16] which reported that 62.0% of physiotherapy students in Delhi have physiotherapy-related smartphone applications.

Findings from the study also showed that the few physiotherapists that have smartphone applications used the application occasionally and as the needs arise. This is at variance with reports from studies involving physiotherapy students where it was reported that 70.0% of postgraduate students of physiotherapy used the application daily[1] and spent about 30 min for clinical and educational activities.[16] The difference in this result may be attributed to the fact that clinical physiotherapists need the application for reference during clinical hours and are less involve in educational activities than students who need to study for varieties of reasons ranging from clinical, educational to writing examination.

Although the use of physiotherapy-related smartphone apps among physiotherapists helps in improving the health care system and provides a cost-effective way of enhancing adherence to treatment, however, the result from this study showed that 43.8% of physiotherapists did not use the applications because they are not aware of its availability. This indicated the need for awareness campaign among physiotherapists in Nigeria. Findings from this study also revealed that the few physiotherapists that have the applications had discussed and share the application with their professional colleagues. This showed their willingness to enlighten others on the benefits of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. Majority of physiotherapists in this study (70.8%) recommended the development of more applications for the use of physiotherapists. This indicated that by conducting the present study, awareness has been created about the availability and the health care benefits of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications among physiotherapists. Similarly, larger number of physiotherapists in this study, however, cautioned against its usage in front of patients during consultation/treatment in the clinic to avoid the loss of patients' trust and confidence in the physiotherapists. This result supported the findings of Georgina et al.,[17] which reported that larger proportion of patients found the use of smartphones by doctors at work unprofessional, which in turn decreases patient satisfaction and proves detrimental to the doctorpatient relationship.

Limitation of the study

The results of our study should be considered in light of its limitation. Although all physiotherapists in the four purposively selected hospitals participated in the study, our sample size is relatively small. The small sample size may therefore affect the generalizability of the results to the Nigerian Physiotherapists' population.


  Conclusion Top


The advancement in information and technology has led to the development of various physiotherapy-related smartphone applications. Majority of physiotherapists in the study environment are not aware of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications hence its usage for health care information is very low. An awareness about the availability of physiotherapy-related smartphone applications and its benefits needs to be created among physiotherapists.

Physiotherapy-related smartphone applications remain a quick reference for physiotherapists. An awareness about the various smartphone applications available for physiotherapists and the attended benefits needs to be created among Nigerian physiotherapists.

The author recommends that further research that involves larger sample size be investigated. In addition, research that targets the effectiveness of physiotherapy programs administered to patients through smartphone applications in terms of adherence to the program and better outcome be also investigated.

Financial support and sponsorship

Self-support.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Sheth M, Verma S. Use of mobile devices for health care information by post graduate physiotherapy students. Int J Physio Ther Res 2018;6:2905-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
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World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) Description of Physical Therapy; 2019. Available from: http://www.wcpt.org. [Last accessed on 2019 Aug 24].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Jin J, Sklar GE, Min Sen Oh V, Chuen Li S. Factors affecting therapeutic compliance: A review from the patient's perspective. Ther Clin Risk Manag 2008;4:269-86.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
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Physiopedia. Telerehabilitation and the use of smartphone physiotherapy applications for home exercise programs; 2019. Available from: http://www.physio-pedia.com. [Last accessed on 2019 Aug 27].  Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Physical Therapists' Guide to PT,OT and SLP Apps. 2019. Available at https://www.webpt.com/physical-therapy-apps (Last assessed on 2020,Nov.11).  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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Payne KB, Wharrad H, Watts K. Smartphone and medical related App use among medical students and junior doctors in the United Kingdom (UK): A regional survey. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2012;12:121.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Singh. P; Kalra. N Smartphone and medical related App usage among physiotherapy students of Delhi. Int Res J Eng Technol 2017;4:1411-4.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Georgina Kerry, Shyam Gokani, Dara Rasasingam, Alexander Zargaran, Javier Ash, Aaina Mittal. Patient perception of smartphone usage by Doctors Smart Homecare Technology and TeleHealth, 2017:4 31–34.  Back to cited text no. 17
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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