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Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Identification of Barriers and Training Needs in Low Vision: A Survey of Low Vision Therapists
Author Affiliations
  • Aegis Therapies
  • Creighton University
Article Information
Vision / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Identification of Barriers and Training Needs in Low Vision: A Survey of Low Vision Therapists
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510231. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO6097
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510231. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO6097
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

Continuing education is vital for the development of skills to treat clients with low vision. Lack of time, budget, and reimbursement are limiting factors for occupational therapists (OTs) wanting to pursue continuing education. This study informs OTs of the training needs in assessment and intervention of low vision.

Primary Author and Speaker: Himanshu Dewan

Additional Author and Speaker: Vanessa Jewell

Contributing Author: Linda Gabriel

PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to identify the barriers, training needs, and competence level of occupational therapists (OTs) in providing the low vision services.
BACKGROUND: There is an increased emphasis on the professional development and training for occupational therapists in low vision. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has recognized low vision as an emerging niche in productive aging, which is one of areas in its Centennial Vision (Baum & Christiansen, 2006). By overcoming barriers in service delivery and identifying focus areas, occupational therapists may be able to provide effective solutions to facilitate the participation of clients with low vision.
DESIGN: This study utilized a descriptive research design with an anonymous online survey that allowed for large number of participants, convenient data gathering, and low costs (Creswell, 2009).
PARTICIPANTS: Fifty participants were selected, using convenience sampling, who had ≥1 yr of clinical experience in treating adults with low vision, listed visual impairment as a practice area, and were members of AOTA.
METHOD: A 36-question self-administered survey was developed in consultation with a low vision expert on the basis of available literature. It included multiple choice and 5-point Likert-scale questions addressing barriers in service delivery, training needs of OTs, and the currents trends in occupational therapy practice in low vision. Postcards were sent to potential participants, and the survey was open for 12 wk. An announcement was posted on the discussion forums in the AOTA Special Interest Sections including Gerontology, Physical Disabilities, and Technology forums.
ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics were used to identify frequencies, means, and standard deviations.
RESULTS: Forty percent of the participants reported lack of time and budget for equipment as a barrier, and 32.6% reported reimbursement as a barrier to provide effective low vision rehabilitation. Only half of the participants reported engaging in continuing education (CE) that focused on low vision. The range for attending CE in person was 0–368 hr with a median of 1 and an average of 9.2 hr. The range for online CE was 0 to 1,774 hr with a median and mean of 2 hr. More than 30% of the participants reported a need for more information for assessments and interventions to provide high-quality low vision services to adults with low vision. It is important to provide additional training to therapists to work with adults with low vision, on the road to achieving the Centennial Vision.
DISCUSSION: These results reflect that additional training is needed to increase the breadth of knowledge in treating clients with low vision. OTs rate themselves as competent and comfortable in providing low vision services. Interestingly, the therapists did not engage in CE and reported requiring more training in assessment and evaluation to provide quality services to adult clients with low vision.
IMPACT STATEMENT: These findings provided a list of identified barriers for service delivery to clients with low vision and direction for overcoming those barriers. The therapists identified the training needs to increase knowledge by engaging in CE to increase the effectiveness of their ability to provide quality services to adult clients with low vision.
References
Baum, C., & Christiansen, C. (2006). AOTA’s Centennial Vision [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://www.aota.org/AboutAOTA/Centennial-Vision/Background.aspx
Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.