Objective: Telepsychiatry is an innovation that addresses disparities in access to care. Despite rigorous clinical research demonstrating its equivalence and effectiveness relative to face-to-face care, many providers are unfamiliar with this technology. Training residents in telepsychiatry is critical to building mental health care capacity in rural and underserviced communities. However, many questions remain regarding the competencies that future psychiatrists require with respect to telepsychiatry, and technology generally, and regarding pedagogical approaches that will promote their attainment. This literature review aims to elucidate evidence-based approaches to developing residents' competence to practice telepsychiatry.
Methods: The authors conducted a literature search of telepsychiatry training for psychiatry residents. The authors searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane, and ERIC using subject headings and keywords; and hand searched reference lists, forward citations of relevant articles, and tables of contents of relevant journals. Articles were included if they were in English, discussed teaching psychiatry residents to provide direct or indirect clinical care via real-time videoconferencing technology, and were published by January 2014.
Results: In total, 215 unique references yielded 20 relevant publications. The literature on graduate training in telepsychiatry is sparse, heterogeneous, and primarily descriptive. Even brief learning experiences may increase the likelihood that residents will incorporate telepsychiatry into their future practice. Training should address competencies that are (1) technical, (2) collaborative/interprofessional, and (3) administrative. Training typically consists of supervised provision of clinical care to build modality-specific clinical skills and may also include didactic teaching to provide health systems and transcultural and medicolegal perspectives.
Conclusions: A more evidence-based approach to telepsychiatry training is needed, including an assessment of residents' learning needs, use of multiple learning modalities, and evaluations of educational curricula. Pedagogically sound curriculum development and evaluation of postgraduate education in telepsychiatry could promote social accountability, cultural competence, interprofessional care, and, ultimately, improve clinical outcomes.