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.