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Implementation of digital health interventions in rehabilitation: A scoping review.

OBJECTIVE: Digital health interventions have potential to enhance rehabilitation services by increasing accessibility, affordability and scalability. However, implementation of digital interventions in rehabilitation is poorly understood. This scoping review aims to map current strategies, research designs, frameworks, outcomes and determinants used to support and evaluate the implementation of digital interventions in rehabilitation.

DATA SOURCES: Comprehensive searches from inception until October 2022 of MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, PEDro, SpeechBITE, NeuroBITE, REHABDATA, WHO International Clinical Trial Registry and the Cochrane Library.

METHODS: Two reviewers screened studies against the eligibility criteria. Implementation science taxonomies and methods, including Powell et al.'s compilation of implementation strategies, were used to guide analysis and synthesis of findings.

RESULTS: The search retrieved 13,833 papers and 23 studies were included. Only 4 studies were randomised controlled trials and 9 studies (39%) were feasibility studies. Thirty-seven discrete implementation strategies were reported across studies. Strategies related to training and educating clinicians (91%), providing interactive assistance (61%), and developing stakeholder interrelationships (43%) were most frequently reported. Few studies adequately described implementation strategies and methods for selecting strategies. Almost all studies measured implementation outcomes and determinants; most commonly, acceptability, compatibility and dose delivered of digital interventions.

CONCLUSION: The rigour of implementation methods in the field is currently poor. Digital interventions require carefully planned and tailored implementation to facilitate successful adoption into rehabilitation practice. To keep pace with rapidly advancing technology, future rehabilitation research should prioritise using implementation science methods to explore and evaluate implementation while testing effectiveness of digital interventions.

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