Introduction: In occupational therapy, three-dimensional printing is
being explored as an alternative design and manufacturing technique to
the conventional fabrication of orthotics and assistive devices. The global
applications and literature are rapidly growing, but the South African – specific
literature is deficient. The Technology Acceptance Model depicts that one’s
perception of any particular technology is a significant determinant of their
acceptance of it, determining whether the technology system is successfully
adopted or disregarded.
Aim: To determine the perceived acceptance of three-dimensional printing
technology amongst occupational therapists in KwaZulu-Natal and whether
exposure to the technology system, in the form of a three-dimensional printing
workshop, influences their perception of the technology.
Method: The study followed a multi-method design consisting of two phases;
phase one involved the creation of the intervention tool (workshop), which
was developed through a process guided by Design-Based Research. Phase
two involved the implementation of the intervention and data collection.
Therapists documented their perceptions in a questionnaire before and after
exposure; following a pre and post-test design, enabling comparison. The
questionnaires were based on the Technology Acceptance Model, including 13
questions scored on a seven-point Likert scale and five open-ended questions.
The quantitative data were analysed descriptively, and qualitative data were
Results: All four categories of the Technology Acceptance Model-based
questionnaire displayed a significant change (p < 0.05) between the pre and
post-test responses, with a medium effect size.
Conclusion: Exposure to three-dimensional printing influences therapists’
perception of the technology.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
• The application of Three-Dimensional Printing (3DP) in occupational therapy
practice has the potential to enable increased accuracy and precision of
items fabricated by therapists; enabling customisation and individualisation
to the exact specifications of a patient.
• 3DP can open doors to a broad spectrum of items that are not easily
accessible, affordable, or not even available, accessing ideas and blueprints
from a global pool of resources through open-source sites.
• With the process of fabrication being digital, not only does this reduce
manual labour, but fabricating without touching the patient can reduce
pain and prevent disruption of a repair/ surgical site/ wound.
• The digital process also allows patients to see and visualise the product
during the design process, enabling input prior to printing, contributing
to reduced wastage.
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Copyright (c) 2023 South African Journal of Occupational Therapy