Development of a Questionnaire to Measure the Attitudes of Laypeople, Physicians, and Psychotherapists Toward Telemedicine in Mental Health

JMIR Ment Health. 2017 Oct 3;4(4):e39. doi: 10.2196/mental.6802.


Background: In the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy, there are now a growing number of Web-based interventions, mobile phone apps, or treatments that are available via remote transmission screen worldwide. Many of these interventions have been shown to be effective in studies but still find little use in everyday therapeutic work. However, it is important that attitude and expectation toward this treatment are generally examined, because these factors have an important effect on the efficacy of the treatment. To measure the general attitude of the users and prescribers toward telemedicine, which may include, for instance, Web-based interventions or interventions through mobile phone apps, there are a small number of extensive tests. The results of studies based on small groups of patients have been published too, but there is no useful short screening tool to give an insight into the general population's attitude. We have developed a screening instrument that examines such attitude through a few graded questions.

Objective: This study aimed to explore the Attitude toward Telemedicine in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (ATiPP) and to evaluate the results of general population and some subgroups.

Methods: In a three-step process, the questionnaire, which is available in three versions (laypeople, physicians, and psychologists), was developed. Afterwards, it was evaluated by four groups: population-representative laypeople, outpatients in different faculties, physicians, and psychotherapists.

Results: The results were evaluated from a total of 1554 questionnaires. The sample population included 1000 laypeople, 455 outpatients, 62 physicians, and 37 psychotherapists. The reliability of all three versions of the questionnaire seemed good, as indicated by the Cronbach alpha values of .849 (the laypeople group), .80 (the outpatients' group), .827 (the physicians' group), and .855 (the psychotherapists' group).

Conclusions: The ATiPP was found to be useful and reliable for measuring the attitudes toward the Web-based interventions in psychiatry and psychotherapy and should be used in different studies in this field in the future to evaluate and reflect the attitude of the participants.

Keywords: attitude to computers; e-mental health; online-intervention; physician expectations; questionnaire; remote consultation; screening; telemedicine.