Agreement between telepsychiatry assessment and face-to-face assessment for Emergency Department psychiatry patients

J Telemed Telecare. 2014 Mar;20(2):59-62. doi: 10.1177/1357633X13519902. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


We compared psychiatrists' evaluations of Emergency Department (ED) mental health patients made face-to-face or by telemedicine. In a 39-month study, 73 patients presenting in the ED were enrolled after initial screening. Patients were interviewed by a psychiatrist either face-to-face in the ED or remotely by video. A second psychiatrist, acting as an observer, was in the room with the patient and independently completed the assessment. Based on the primary diagnosis of the interviewer, 48% of patients had a depressive disorder, 18% a substance use disorder, 14% a bipolar disorder, 11% a psychotic disorder, 6% an anxiety disorder and 4% other disorders. The raw agreement between the psychiatrists about disposition when both used face-to-face assessment was 84% and it was 86% when one used telemedicine. Using Cohen's kappa to evaluate agreement, there were no significant differences for disposition recommendation, strength of recommendation, diagnosis or the HCR-20 dangerousness scale. There was no significant difference for the intraclass correlation coefficients for the suicide scale. The results provide preliminary support for the safe use of telepsychiatry in the ED to determine the need for admission to inpatient care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Telemedicine*
  • Video Recording