Applications of telecounselling in spinal cord injury rehabilitation: a systematic review with effect sizes

Clin Rehabil. 2013 Dec;27(12):1072-83. doi: 10.1177/0269215513488001. Epub 2013 Jul 3.


Objective: To investigate the short- and medium-term efficacy of counselling services provided remotely by telephone, video or internet, in managing mental health outcomes following spinal cord injury.

Data sources: A search of electronic databases, critical reviews and published meta-analyses was conducted.

Review methods: Seven independent studies (N = 272 participants) met the inclusion criteria. The majority of these studies utilized telephone-based counselling, with limited research examining psychological interventions delivered by videoconferencing (N study = 1) or online (N study = 1).

Results: There is some evidence that telecounselling can significantly improve an individual's management of common comorbidities following spinal cord injury, including pain and sleep difficulties (d = 0.45). Medium-term treatment effects were difficult to evaluate, with very few studies providing these data, although participants have reported gains in quality of life 12 months after treatment (d = 0.88). The main clinical advantages are time efficiency and consumer satisfaction.

Conclusion: The results highlight the need for further evidence, particularly randomized controlled trials, to establish the benefits and clinical viability of telecounselling.

Keywords: Spinal cord injuries; systematic review; telecounselling; telerehabilitation; treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Databases, Bibliographic
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Mental Health*
  • Social Support*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Telecommunications*
  • Telephone
  • Videoconferencing