A Pilot Study Examining Access to and Satisfaction with Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment via Telemedicine

Telemed Rep. 2022 Jan 11;3(1):24-29. doi: 10.1089/tmr.2021.0041. eCollection 2022.


Background: Mental health (MH) and substance use disorders (SUDs) are common during pregnancy and the postpartum year, and have a significant impact on maternal and child health. Most women do not receive treatment for these conditions due to barriers to care. Increasing access to these services via telemedicine is one potential solution to overcoming barriers, but it is unknown if this type of service is acceptable to women. The purpose of this study is to evaluate patient satisfaction with, and accessibility to, a maternal MH and SUD telemedicine service delivered to obstetric practices. Methods: The Telemedicine Satisfaction Questionnaire and the Questionnaire for Assessing Patient Satisfaction with Video Consultation were collected via online surveys. Responses were scored on a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). Paired t-tests were used to compare round trip travel time and distance between participants home and specialty clinic at an academic medical center versus their local obstetrics clinic where they received telemedicine services. Results: A total of 91.42% (32/35) of women agreed to take part in the study, and 43.75% (14/32) of women were living in a rural community. Patients reported high levels of satisfaction with the following: overall quality of care (mean [M] 4.66 [standard deviation, SD, 0.67]); similarity to face-to-face are (M 4.69 [SD 0.63]); and access to care (M 4.47 [SD 0.81]). Compared with in-person care at an academic medical center, women receiving care via telemedicine spent significantly less time (67.44 minutes vs. 256.31 minutes, p < 0.001) and distance (50.33 miles vs. 236.06 miles, p < 0.001) traveling round trip. Conclusions: Women receiving MH and SUD treatment via telemedicine within their obstetrician's office report high levels of satisfaction and increased access to care with this modality of treatment delivery. Telemedicine may provide one solution to removing barriers to care and mitigating the maternal and child risks associated with of untreated MH and SUDs.

Keywords: access; perinatal mental health and substance use disorders; postpartum; pregnancy; satisfaction; telemedicine.