During the COVID-19 pandemic, many mental health service providers transitioned to delivering services via telehealth.
In this global study surveying 1,206 clinicians from 100 countries in six languages, the majority of clinicians (90.5%) reported having started or increased use of telehealth by June and July of 2020. Globally, telephone and video conferencing were the most commonly used modalities, but the modality also varied by WHO region, country income level, and profession. For example, clinicians based in low-income countries reported higher proportion of chat or instant messaging whereas clinicians in high-income countries indicated telephone and videoconferencing use were more common.
At the time of the study in June-July 2020, 49.1% of mental health professionals had not received any form of telehealth training, and only 19.8% of clinicians received training addressing all three components of telehealth (clinical, ethical and legal, and technological). Clinician age, country income level, profession, and telehealth training also were associated with the degree to which clinicians perceived telehealth to be effective (e.g. clinicians who received more training were more likely to endorse telehealth is very effective). Furthermore, clinicians expressed some concerns about using telehealth, including concerns about technological barriers, prescribing medication remotely, and the quality of care compared to in-person services for specific patient populations.
This international and multilingual study indicates a shift in global practices with increased use of telehealth. These findings highlight the importance of developing local telehealth standards and increasing training opportunities that address the clinical, ethical and legal, and technological aspects of telehealth.
Article citation: Montoya, M. I., Kogan, C. S., Rebello, T. J., Sadowska, K., Garcia-Pacheco, J. A., Khoury, B., Kulygina, M., Matsumoto, C., Robles, R., Huang, J., Andrews, H. F., Ayuso-Mateos, J. L., Denny, K., Gaebel, W., Gureje, O., Kanba, S., Maré, K., Medina-Mora, M. E., Pike, K. M., Roberts, M. C., Sharan, P., Stein, D. J., Stroup, T. S., Zhao, M., Reed, G. M. (2022). An international survey examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on telehealth use among mental health professionals. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 148, 188-196. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.01.050
Among the collaborators of this study include Columbia-based faculty members Dr. Tahilia Rebello, Dr. Howard Andrews, Dr. Kathleen Pike, Dr. T. Scott Stroup, and Dr. Geoffrey Reed. Additionally, Karolina Sadowska and José Angel Gardia-Pacheco are affiliated with the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health as former and current research scholars.