Clinician perspectives on providing telepsychiatry services to young adults with first-episode psychosis during COVID-19

Early Interv Psychiatry. 2023 Dec;17(12):1189-1198. doi: 10.1111/eip.13416. Epub 2023 Apr 14.

Abstract

Background: Telepsychiatry has the potential to facilitate access to mental health services for young people with first-episode of psychosis (FEP); however, limited attention has been given regarding the perceptions of mental health providers in this regard.

Objective: To assess service providers' perceptions on the use of telepsychiatry and changes over time.

Methods: Longitudinal survey (conducted at two time points) of 26 service providers, including physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and peer support workers, recruited from a specialized program for FEP providing telepsychiatry services through REACTS (videoconferencing platform).

Results: Responses during the initial and the follow-up survey were similar. Most participants used REACTS nine times or more, with more than half reporting that sessions lasted more than 30 min. Over time, there was a trend towards higher frequency of use and lower duration of sessions. The majority perceived REACTS as safe and easy to use and indicated they would recommend REACTS to colleagues. Although participants reported some issues related to set-up and initial use, internet accessibility, and sound and image, most of these concerns decreased during follow-up. Participants appreciated the usability and utility of REACTS, and reported several benefits of telepsychiatry, including facilitating client engagement, assessment and continuity.

Conclusions: Service providers expressed positive perceptions regarding the use of telepsychiatry. Despite analysis being limited to a small sample, this study raises awareness of telepsychiatry's value and feasibility for offering services to young populations with FEP and the importance of conducting research on clinician perspectives in this regard.

Keywords: digital health; information and communication technologies; mental health services; mhealth; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Psychiatry*
  • Psychotic Disorders* / therapy
  • Telemedicine* / methods
  • Young Adult

Grants and funding