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Rapid implementation of Veterans Health Administration telehealth creative arts therapies: survey evaluation of adoption and adaptation.

Story KM, Flanagan ME, Robb SL, Bravata DM, Bair MJ, Otto D, Damush TM. Rapid implementation of Veterans Health Administration telehealth creative arts therapies: survey evaluation of adoption and adaptation. BMC health services research. 2023 Jul 19; 23(1):769.

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BACKGROUND: Creative arts therapies (CAT) are employed throughout the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and are predominantly delivered in-person. Though telehealth delivery of CAT was used at several VHA facilities to increase services to rural Veterans, due to guidance from the Center for Disease Control and VHA that temporarily suspended or reduced in-person services, there was a large increase of CAT therapists enterprise-wide who adopted telehealth delivery. The aims of this study were to evaluate adoption and adaptation of CAT telehealth delivery and identify related barriers and facilitators. METHODS: We deployed a survey guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research and administered it via email to all VHA CAT therapists (N? = 120). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data and responses were compared based on therapists'' age, years of experience and CAT discipline. Open survey field responses were summarized, qualitatively coded, and analyzed thematically. RESULTS: Most therapists (76%) reported adopting telehealth with 74% each delivering? > 50 CAT sessions in the prior year. Therapists adapted interventions or created new ones to be delivered through telehealth. Barriers included: technical challenges, control of the virtual space, and building rapport. Facilitators included added equipment, software, and infrastructure. CAT therapists adapted their session preparation, session content, outcome expectations, and equipment. CAT therapists reported being able to reach more patients and improved access to care with telehealth compared to in person visits. Additional benefits were patient therapeutic effects from attending sessions from home, therapist convenience, and clinician growth. CONCLUSIONS: VHA CAT therapists used their inherent creativity to problem solve difficulties and make adaptations for CAT telehealth adoption. Future studies may explore CAT telehealth sustainment and its effectiveness on clinical processes and outcomes.

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