Measuring outcomes in children's rehabilitation: A decision protocol
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OBJECTIVE: To develop and test the feasibility and clinical utility of a computerized self-directed software program designed to enable service providers in children's rehabilitation to make decisions about the most appropriate outcome measures to use in client and program evaluation. DESIGN: A before-and-after design was used to test the feasibility and initial impact of the decision-making outcome software in improving knowledge and use of clinical outcome measures. SETTING: A children's rehabilitation center in a city of 50,000. PARTICIPANTS: All service providers in the children's rehabilitation center. Disciplines represented included early childhood education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, audiology, social work, and psychology. INTERVENTION: Using a conceptual framework based on the International Classification of Impairment, Disability, and Handicap (ICIDH), an outcome measurement decision-making protocol was developed. The decision-making protocol was computerized in an educational software program with an attached database of critically appraised measures. Participants learned about outcome measures through the program and selected outcome measures that met their specifications. The computer software was tested for feasibility in the children's rehabilitation center for 6 months. OUTCOME MEASURES: Knowledge and use of clinical outcome measures were determined before and after the feasibility testing using a survey of all service providers currently at the centre and audits of 30 randomly selected rehabilitation records (at pretest, posttest, and follow-up). RESULTS: Service providers indicated that the outcomes software was easy to follow and believed that the use of the ICIDH framework helped them in making decisions about selecting outcome measures. Results of the survey indicated that there were significant changes in the service providers' level of comfort with selecting measures and knowing what measures were available. Use of outcome measures as identified through the audit did not change. CONCLUSIONS: The "All About Outcomes" software is clinically useful. Further research should evaluate whether using the software affects the use of outcome measures in clinical practice.
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