Evaluating Community-Facing Virtual Modalities To Support Complex Neurological Populations During The COVID-19 Pandemic A Protocol

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic and concomitant governmental responses created the need for innovative, collaborative approaches to deliver services, especially for populations that have been inequitably affected. In Alberta, two novel approaches were created in Spring 2020 to remotely support patients with complex neurological conditions and rehabilitation needs. The first approach is a telehealth service that provides wayfinding and self-management advice to Albertans with physical concerns related to existing neurological or musculoskeletal conditions or post-COVID-19 recovery needs. The second approach is a webinar series aimed at supporting self-management and social connectedness of individuals living with spinal cord injury.

Objective: To evaluate the short- and long-term impacts and sustainability of two virtual modalities aimed at advancing self-management, connectedness and rehabilitation needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Method: We will use a mixed-methods evaluation approach. Evaluation of both approaches will include one-on-one semi-structured interviews and surveys. The evaluation of the telehealth initiative will include secondary data analyses as well as analysis of call data using artificial intelligence. The evaluation of the webinar series will include analysis of poll questions collected during the webinars as well as YouTube analytics data.

Results: The proposed study describes unique pandemic virtual modalities and our approaches to evaluating them to ensure effectiveness and sustainability. Implementing and evaluating these virtual modalities synchronously allows for the building of knowledge on the complementarity of these methods. We have completed qualitative and quantitative data analyses for the telehealth evaluation and are currently writing up our findings. For the webinar series, we have distributed the evaluation survey following three webinars and have conducted five attendee interviews.