Telemedicine as a Therapeutic Option in Sports Medicine: Results of a Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study among Physicians and Patients in Germany

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 2;18(13):7110. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18137110.


BACKGROUND: Worldwide, the number of treatments in the field of sports medicine is increasing. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyday life. Many consultations had to be cancelled, postponed, or converted to a virtual format. Telemedicine in sports medicine could support physicians. This study analyzes the use and perception of telemedicine applications among physicians and patients in the field of sports medicine in Germany.

METHODS: This prospective cross-sectional study was based on a survey of sports medicine physicians and patients in Germany during the COVID-19 pandemic. Descriptive statistics were calculated.

RESULTS: We analyzed the responses of 729 patients and 702 sports medicine physicians. Most believed that telemedicine is useful. Both physicians and patients rated their knowledge of telemedicine as unsatisfactory. The majority of respondents said they do not currently use telemedicine but would like to do so. Patients and physicians reported that their attitude had changed positively towards telemedicine and that their usage had increased due to COVID-19. The majority in both groups agreed on implementing virtual visits in stable disease conditions. Telemedicine was considered helpful for follow-up monitoring and prevention by both groups.

CONCLUSION: Telemedicine in sports medicine has seen limited use but is highly accepted among physicians and patients alike. The absence of a structured framework is an obstacle to effective implementation. Training courses should be introduced to improve the limited knowledge regarding the use of telemedicine. More research in telemedicine in sports medicine is needed. This includes large-scale randomized controlled trials, economic analyses and explorations of user preferences.

PMID:34281045 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph18137110