Importance: With the increasing use of telehealth, it is imperative to synthesize the existing evidence to examine the effectiveness of telehealth interventions and inform practitioners and reimbursement entities.
Objective: To examine the effectiveness of telehealth occupational therapy interventions across the lifespan, delivered either independently or as part of an interdisciplinary team.
Data Sources: MEDLINE, CINAHL, SAGE, PsycInfo, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, OTseeker, and OT Search and hand searches of systematic reviews, relevant journals, and known occupational therapy telehealth research.
Study Selection and Data Collection: Following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, we screened and appraised articles that included an occupational therapy intervention delivered via telehealth and that were peer reviewed, written in English, published between 2009 and 2019, and Levels 1b to 3b evidence.
Findings: Twenty full-text articles (8 Level 1b, 9 Level 2b, and 3 Level 3b) met the inclusion criteria. Strong strength of evidence supports the use of telehealth approaches for occupational therapy interventions for people with neurological and pain conditions. Moderate strength of evidence supports the use of telehealth interventions to support education outcomes. Low strength of evidence was found for other outcomes for children with developmental disorders and additional conditions.
Conclusions and Relevance: There is evidence to support that occupational therapy interventions delivered via telehealth are similarly effective as those delivered face-to-face, especially for neurological and pain conditions.
What This Article Adds: The findings include an updated synthesis of telehealth occupational therapy interventions provided separately and with interdisciplinary health care teams. They expand occupational therapy’s scope of practice to include interventions provided across the lifespan for rehabilitation and habilitation needs and include effectiveness by conditions.