Patient Perceptions of Telemental Health: Systematic Review of Direct Comparisons to In-Person Psychotherapeutic Treatments

Telemed J E Health. 2015 Aug;21(8):652-60. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2014.0165. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Background: Although there is growing empirical support for the clinical efficacy of telemental health (TMH) treatments, questions remain about how patient perceptions of the TMH treatment process may compare with those of traditional in-person psychotherapy treatments.

Materials and methods: Through a systematic review, we specifically examine measures of patient treatment satisfaction and therapeutic alliance in studies that included direct comparisons of video teleconferencing or telephone-based psychotherapeutic TMH treatments with in-person treatment delivery. We performed a comprehensive search of the PsychINFO and MEDLINE databases for articles published in the last 10 years (2004-2014) on TMH treatments that included in-person comparison groups, yielding 552 initial results with 14 studies meeting our full inclusion criteria.

Results: The findings generally show comparable treatment satisfaction as well as similar ratings of therapeutic alliance. Some results suggested the potential for decreased patient comfort with aspects of group treatment delivered via TMH.

Conclusions: We discuss implications for providing psychotherapeutic treatments via TMH and review practice recommendations for assuring and enhancing satisfaction with TMH services.

Keywords: literature review; telemedicine; telemental health; telepsychology; therapeutic alliance; treatment satisfaction; video teleconferencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Psychotherapy
  • Remote Consultation
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telephone
  • Videoconferencing