Introduction: Integrating web-based or mobile components and face-to-face components within a treatment process is called blended care. As part of the participatory development of a blended physiotherapeutic intervention for patients with low back pain (e-Exercise LBP), a proof of concept study was carried out and showed promising results.
Objective: To investigate the feasibility of the e-Exercise LBP prototype for patients and physiotherapists to improve the intervention.
Methods: A mixed methods study was executed, embedded in the development phase of e-Exercise LBP. 21 physiotherapists treated 41 patients with e-Exercise LBP. Quantitative data consisted of: patients' satisfaction on a five-point Likert Scale; patients' and physiotherapists' experienced usability of the web-based application (System Usability Scale) and; patients' experiences with e-Exercise LBP (closed-ended questions and statements related to the elements and goals of e-Exercise LBP). Semi-structured interviews about experiences with e-Exercise LBP were conducted with seven patients and seven physiotherapists. Qualitative data were analyzed by a phenomenological approach. Quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive statistics.
Results: Patients were satisfied with e-Exercise LBP (mean: 4.0; SD:0.8; range: extreme dissatisfaction (1)-extreme satisfaction (5)). Usability of the web-based application was acceptable (patients: mean: 73.2 (SD:16.3); physiotherapists: mean: 63.3 (SD:12.0); range: 0-100). Interviews revealed that physiotherapists' training is essential to successfully integrate the web-based application and face-to-face sessions within physiotherapy treatment. Also, patients addressed the need of reminder messages to support long-term (exercise) adherence.
Conclusion: e-Exercise LBP appeared to be feasible. However, various prerequisites and points of improvement were mentioned to improve physiotherapists' training and the prototype.