THRIVE: A student-led, person-centred, interprofessional practice placement experience using a digital telehealth platform. Findings from a student survey

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


Purpose: The UK lockdown for COVID-19 in March 2020 led to withdrawal of students from practice placements risking student progression. Therapist educators at the University of Huddersfield created a student-led service to support the local community while developing future-oriented skills including person-centred care, health coaching and interprofessional practice. People facing health and wellbeing challenges during lockdown were recruited from local charities. Physiotherapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) students worked in pairs with participants via video link with supervision from qualified academic staff. This poster presents the outcomes from a student survey of the initial pilot phase of this project, focusing on the experience of telehealth as a practice placement and the development of students’ confidence in a variety of domains.

Methods: A quantitative survey was undertaken via the survey software Qualtrics XM, which was distributed via email to all students who had attended a telehealth placement in the pilot phase of the project. Data were gathered and analysed by the lead author with support from the wider project team.

Results: 17 PT and 17 OT students attended telehealth placements, of whom 32 were in the second year of their degree training. 15 OT and 11 PT students responded to the survey (n = 26). They reported significant increases in confidence with telehealth and interprofessional working, use of health coaching and understanding of professional roles.

Specifically, OT students developed skills in exercise rehabilitation, and PT students developed their understanding of an occupational focus in these interventions. All students developed their confidence in person-centred goal setting and health coaching, and 85% (n = 22) of students reported that the telehealth experience would change how they engaged with service users in future practice placements. Communication skills specific to the setting were a key area of development for all students, particularly the creativity required to assess and design person-centred interventions on a virtual platform.

Prior to their telehealth experience, 50% of respondents (n = 13) did not feel confident working clinically with a student from another profession, whereas 100% reported feeling fairly or very confident in this area after the experience. The majority of students agreed that working in this manner had helped them to develop their understanding of others’ roles, and all reported having a better understanding of professional boundaries.

Conclusion(s): Student-led, virtual services reflect the change in service provision following the coronavirus pandemic and offer excellent and distinctive learning opportunities for students, coupled with the development of communication and coaching skills in a different setting to conventional practice placements. Interprofessional student placements may improve person-centredness and occupational relevance of interventions for Physiotherapy students, alongside a deeper understanding of professional boundaries and roles.

Impact: This pilot project has paved the way for permanent inclusion of telehealth practice placement experiences for PT and OT students in our institution, helping them to develop a skill set to prepare them for the future of global service provision.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e19
Number of pages1
Issue numbersuppl. 1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022
EventVirtual Physiotherapy UK 2021 Conference - Virtual, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 5 Nov 20216 Nov 2021


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