A growing body of literature now suggests that use of telepsychiatry to provide mental health services has the potential to solve the workforce shortage problem that directly affects access to care, especially in remote and underserved areas. Live interactive two-way audio-video communication-videoconferencing-is the modality most applicable to psychiatry and has become synonymous with telepsychiatry involving patient care, distance education, and administration. This article reviews empirical evidence on the use and effectiveness of videoconferencing in providing diagnostic and treatment services in mental health settings that serve child, adolescent, and adult populations. Descriptive reports, case studies, research articles, and randomized controlled trials related to clinical outcomes were identified and reviewed independently by two authors. Articles related to cost-effectiveness, technological issues, or legal or ethical aspects of telepsychiatry were excluded. The review of the evidence broadly covers mental health service provision in all settings, including forensic settings. Given the sparse literature on telepsychiatry in forensic settings, we discuss implications for mental health care across settings and populations and comment on future directions and potential uses in forensic or correctional psychiatry.
(c) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.