Date of Award
Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore occupational therapist practitioners’ (OTPs) utility of smart home technology (SHT) in their practice, as well as to inquire into the facilitators and barriers of utilization of smart home technology within the practice of occupational therapy.
Methodology: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of North Dakota (UND) in Grand Forks, ND. A quantitative, descriptive research design utilizing survey methodology was used. Recruitment was conducted through purposive and convenience sampling. A 30-question Qualtrics survey was distributed to participants via social media and internet pages (OT4OT; AT4OT; CommunOT; and UND OT Alumni page). There was minimal inclusion criteria for the population recruited. Quantitative data was analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences, version 26. The framework guiding this quantitative research study was the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology 2 (UTAUT2) (Venkatesh, Thong, & Xu, 2012).
Results: A total of 75 surveys were returned, both by occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). Most of the respondents were female (91%, n=68) and were OTs (85%, n=64). Most of the respondents practice in the United States (61%, n=46) working in home health (33%, n=25) and outpatient settings (31%, n=23). Overall, the respondents reported that they do not currently use SHT in practice (63%, n=47), that they are somewhat interested in using SHT (34%, n=21), and that most of their education on SHT is obtained from independent research or study (25%, n=16). When considering availability, respondents stated that they do not have time (57%, n=43) or access (36%, n=22) to incorporate SHT. Lastly, available funding and support are limited as well, with respondents stating they do not have employer (85%, n=52) or other funding (52%, n=31). Most non-financial support comes from co-workers (n=16) and family (n=8). Spearman rho correlations were conducted, finding multiple strong correlations between: the degree of support and who is providing the support (co-workers, family, etc.); level of comfort with utilizing SHT and effectiveness when utilizing SHT; types of funding sources available (private, insurance, etc.) and received amount of funding currently; and received funding and use.
Conclusion: Occupational therapy practitioners are more likely to use SHT in practice if they have support in a variety of forms, but especially from their co-workers. Interest is also linked to increased support, increased access to funding, and increased availability. However, interest was not the driving force for being effective when using SHT. It was found that comfort with SHT was the driving force for practitioners to perceive they were effective when using it as an intervention. The most substantial barriers to using SHT that were identified include: lack of funding sources, lack of education, and lack of availability to the devices. These factors do not need to remain barriers and in fact can and should become supports to using SHT. Smart home technology should be used in care and when a practitioner takes a moment to develop interest in the topic, thus developing a better understanding and knowledge base, they will likely have an increase in comfort and therefore, perceived effectiveness when using technologies as interventions. All of these factors assist clients in the long run.
Walthers, Kylie and Zimmer, Jessie, "The Utility of Smart Home Technology within Occupational Therapy Practice" (2020). Occupational Therapy Capstones. 454.