Background: The limited accessibility of in-person optometry services during the coronavirus disease 2019 highlighted the need for teleoptometry but no data exists to substantiate the foregoing in Trinidad & Tobago (T&T). The study assessed the knowledge, attitude and perception (KAP) of optometrists toward teleoptometry in T&T.
Methods: This cross-sectional study utilized a convenient sampling technique to administer a structured, web-based survey to all registered optometrists in T&T between March and June 2021. Information on demographics and KAP of teleoptometry were collected. Descriptive statistics (mean, percentages, and standard deviations) were used to describe the characteristics of respondents. The mean scores for the main outcomes (KAP) were compared between the categorical groups of the demographic variables, using a one-way analysis of variance. A P-value of less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Of the 116 registered optometrists in T&T, 63 responded to the survey (response rate, 54.3%), and were mostly women (44, 69.8%), aged 21–30 years (42, 66.7%), worked in urban regions (41, 65.1%), and half of them (32, 50.8%) had practiced optometry for five or more years. More than two-thirds of the optometrists (76.4%) reported that they had never provided teleoptometry services, and only a few (2, 3.2%) had training on teleoptometry. The percentage mean scores for knowledge were significantly lower than attitude (38.5 ± 17.9% vs 78.2 ± 29.9%; P = 0.002) and perception (46.2 ± 11.4%; P < 0.001) scores, all of which were significantly lower among self-employed than employed optometrists (P < 0.02, for all three variables). While men and non-professional computer users had higher mean scores for attitude than women (3.03 [95%CI: 2.14, 3.93] vs 2.31 [95%CI: 1.41, 3.21], P = 0.037) and professional users (3.15 [95%CI: 2.07, 4.24] vs 2.18 [95%CI: 1.12, 3.24], P = 0.001), knowledge and perception scores varied significantly with practitioners’ years of experience (P = 0.042) and age (P = 0.041), respectively.
Conclusion: The findings of the study suggest that although there was limited knowledge of teleoptometry among the participants, particularly the self-employed and the less experienced optometrists, most of them had good attitudes and perceptions toward teleoptometry. To fill the identified knowledge gap, there is a need for teleoptometry training among optometrists in T&T.