One of the aims of our research is to identify the types of orthotic devices currently being used by the NHS in the management of instability of the knee related to neuromuscular and CNS conditions. We also want to find the answers to other questions such as what are the pathways that patients have to follow once they are referred for an orthotic device. By finding out what resources are required to assess and fit patients with a device, we should then be able to estimate the costs for providing services. We are also interested in what healthcare professionals think are important outcomes for patients and how those outcomes should be measured. This will complement the information we are gathering from patients.
To collect the information we need, we are carrying out a survey of orthotists, physiotherapists and rehabilitation medicine clinicians who are involved in the provision of orthotic devices for patients with knee instability. The content of the questionnaire has been informed by discussions with healthcare professionals in a focus group, one-to-one interviews and discussions with our project Steering Group, which includes members of the different professional groups involved in provision of orthotic devices.
Our problem is that there is so little research available on this topic that we need to ask for a lot of information to address these really important questions. We expect that the survey will take 20-30 minutes to complete which is longer than we would like, but we know that many health professionals working in this area are as keen as we are to address this knowledge gap.
The findings from the survey will be made widely available through healthcare professional networks, patient groups and research journals, as well as forming part of the formal report to our funders, the NIHR HTA programme.
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