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Protocol for the CONNECT project: a mixed methods study investigating patient preferences for communication technology use in orthopaedic rehabilitation consultations
  1. Anthony William Gilbert1,2,
  2. Jeremy Jones2,
  3. Maria Stokes2,
  4. Emmanouil Mentzakis3,
  5. Carl R May4
  1. 1 Therapies Department, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore, Stanmore, Middlesex, UK
  2. 2 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3 Faculty of Economic, Social and Political Science, University of Southapton, Southampton, UK
  4. 4 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Mr Anthony William Gilbert; anthony.gilbert{at}


Introduction Technology has been placed at the centre of global health policy and has been cited as having the potential to increase efficiency and remove geographical boundaries for patients to access care. Communication technology may support patients with orthopaedic problems, which is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. There are several examples of technology being used in clinical research, although uptake in practice remains low. An understanding of patient preferences will support the design of a communication technology supported treatment pathway for patients undergoing orthopaedic rehabilitation.

Methods and analysis This mixed methods project will be conducted in four phases. In phase I, a systematic review of qualitative studies reporting communication technology use for orthopaedic rehabilitation will be conducted to devise a taxonomy of tasks patients’ face when using these technologies to access their care. In phase II, qualitative interviews will investigate how the work of being a patient changes during face-to-face and communication technology consultations and how these changes influence preference. In phase III, a discrete choice experiment will investigate the factors that influence preferences for the use of communication technology for orthopaedic rehabilitation consultations. Phase IV will be a practical application of these results. We will design a ‘minimally disruptive’ communication technology supported pathway for patients undergoing orthopaedic rehabilitation.

Ethics and dissemination The design of a pathway and underpinning patient preference will assist in understanding factors that might influence technology implementation for clinical care. This study requires ethical approval for phases II, III and IV. Approvals have been received for phase II (approval received on 4 December 2016 from the South Central-Oxford C Research Ethics Committee (IRAS ID: 255172, REC Reference 18/SC/0663)) and phase III (approval received on 18 October 2019 from the London-Hampstead Research Ethics Committee (IRAS ID: 248064, REC Reference 19/LO/1586)) and will be sought for phase IV. All participants will provide informed written consent prior to being enrolled onto the study.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42018100896.

  • Adult orthopaedics
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Telemedicine

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  • Contributors AWG wrote the paper and conceived the project with the support of CRM, JJ and MS. CRM contributed knowledge on systematic reviews and qualitative research. JJ and EM contributed knowledge on the discrete choice experiment . CRM, JJ, MS and EM edited and critically revised the paper. All authors have read and approved the manuscript. AWG is the guarantor of the manuscript.

  • Funding AWG is funded by a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship for this research project (ICA-CDRF-2017-03-025).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; peer reviewed for ethical and funding approval prior to submission.