Views of Service Users, Their Family or Carers, and Health Care Professionals on Telerehabilitation for People With Neurological Conditions in Ghana: Qualitative Study

JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2024 Mar 27:12:e49501. doi: 10.2196/49501.

Abstract

Background: Up to 50% of people in low- and middle-income countries do not receive the rehabilitation they require. Telerehabilitation has the potential to improve access to neurorehabilitation services especially in low- and middle-income countries. Although there are reports of the barriers and facilitators to telerehabilitation in such settings, almost all are anecdotal. Furthermore, family or carers have a significant influence on the adoption and success of telerehabilitation, but their views have not been reported.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the views of service users, their family or carers, and health care professionals (HCPs) on telerehabilitation for people with neurological conditions in Ghana.

Methods: Two focus groups were held at Komfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana: one in person for service users (n=11) and their family or carers (n=9), conducted in the Ghanaian language of Twi, and one hybrid for HCPs (n=18) conducted in English. The mean (SD) age of the service users was 59.8 (8.6) years; 5 users had a stroke and 6 had Parkinson disease. The HCP group consisted of 7 speech and language therapists, 3 physiotherapists, 3 occupational therapists, 3 medical staff, 1 nurse, and 1 industry representative. Focus groups were semi-structured and explored previous experiences of telerehabilitation, perceived benefits and challenges, and solutions to overcome these challenges. Focus groups were audio transcribed, and the service user transcript was translated into English. The resulting transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.

Results: Overall, participants were positive about the role of telerehabilitation but recommended hybrid delivery, with in-person rehabilitation in the early stages and telerehabilitation in the later stages. In relation to telerehabilitation in Ghana, there were 3 main themes: benefits, challenges or barriers, and implementation. Benefits included the convenience and lower cost for service users, the higher dose of therapy possible, and increased access for people in remote areas. However, challenges included lack of a stable internet connection, cost of phones and data packages, and low levels of literacy. Implementation issues included cultural relevance, information governance, and the platform used to deliver telerehabilitation, with most participants being familiar with WhatsApp.

Conclusions: Telerehabilitation has the potential to be a useful method of delivering rehabilitation to people with neurological conditions in Ghana, especially in a hybrid rehabilitation model with telerehabilitation augmenting in-person sessions. However, many people were unaware of telerehabilitation, and challenges such as a reliable internet connection, cultural relevance, and costs need to be addressed. Clinical trials of low-cost telerehabilitation interventions contextualized to the specific user group are required.

Keywords: LMIC; barriers; caregiver; eHealth; facilitators; focus group; health care professional; low- to middle-income country; neurorehabilitation; qualitative study; service user; telerehabilitation; thematic analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Ghana
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Telerehabilitation*