A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Current State of Remote Physiotherapy in Finland : Cross-sectional Web-Based Questionnaire Study (2022)

Hellstén, T., Arokoski, J., Sjögren, T., Jäppinen, A.-M., & Kettunen, J. (2022). The Current State of Remote Physiotherapy in Finland : Cross-sectional Web-Based Questionnaire Study. JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies, 9(2), Article e35569. https://doi.org/10.2196/35569

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Hellstén, Thomas; Arokoski, Jari; Sjögren, Tuulikki; Jäppinen, Anna-Maija; Kettunen, Jyrki

Journal or series: JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies

eISSN: 2369-2529

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 07/06/2022

Volume: 9

Issue number: 2

Article number: e35569

Publisher: JMIR Publications Inc.

Publication country: Canada

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2196/35569

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/82682

Publication is parallel published: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9177171/


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required social, health, and rehabilitation organizations to implement remote physiotherapy (RP) as a part of physiotherapists’ daily practice. RP may improve access to physiotherapy as it delivers physiotherapy services to rehabilitees through information and communications technology. Even if RP has already been introduced in this century, physiotherapists’ opinion, amount of use, and form in daily practice have not been studied extensively.

This study aims to investigate physiotherapists’ opinions of the current state of RP in Finland.

A quantitative, cross-sectional, web-based questionnaire was sent to working-aged members of the Finnish Association of Physiotherapists (n=5905) in March 2021 and to physiotherapists in a private physiotherapy organization (n=620) in May 2021. The questionnaire included questions on the suitability of RP in different diseases and the current state and implementation of RP in work among physiotherapists.

Of the 6525 physiotherapists, a total of 9.9% (n=662; n=504, 76.1% female; mean age 46.1, SD 12 years) answered the questionnaire. The mean suitability “score” (0=not suitable at all to 10=fully suitable) of RP in different disease groups varied from 3.3 (neurological diseases) to 6.1 (lung diseases). Between early 2020 (ie, just before the COVID-19 pandemic) and spring 2021, the proportion of physiotherapists who used RP increased from 33.8% (21/62) to 75.4% (46/61; P<.001) in the public sector and from 19.7% (42/213) to 76.6% (163/213; P<.001) in the private sector. However, only 11.7% (32/274) of physiotherapists reported that they spent >20% of their practice time for RP in 2021. The real-time method was the most common RP method in both groups (public sector 46/66, 69.7% vs private sector 157/219, 71.7%; P=.47). The three most commonly used technical equipments were computers/tablets (229/290, 79%), smartphones (149/290, 51.4%), and phones (voice call 51/290, 17.6%). The proportion of physiotherapists who used computers/tablets in RP was higher in the private sector than in the public sector (183/221, 82.8% vs 46/68, 67.6%; P=.01). In contrast, a higher proportion of physiotherapists in the public sector than in the private sector used phones (18/68, 26.5% vs 33/221, 14.9%; P=.04).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, physiotherapists increased their use of RP in their everyday practice, although practice time in RP was still low. When planning RP for rehabilitees, it should be considered that the suitability of RP in different diseases seems to vary in the opinion of physiotherapists. Furthermore, our results brought up important new information for developing social, health, and rehabilitation education for information and communications technologies.

Keywords: physiotherapy; physical therapists; remote services; electronic services; e-healthcare; COVID-19; questionnaire survey

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 14:04