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Telemed J E Health. 2004 Fall;10(3):278-85.

Telepsychiatry with children and adolescents: are patients comparable to those evaluated in usual outpatient care?

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  • 1Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Washington 98105, USA.


Several studies have described successful applications of telepsychiatry with children and adolescents. However, there has been little examination of the populations served by telepsychiatry and the ability to evaluate youth accurately through this medium. In this article, we examined whether telepsychiatry patients are representative of those in usual outpatient care. Participants included 369 patients 3-19 years old evaluated at two clinics. A new telepsychiatry clinic (TPC) developed to provide services to under-served communities, and a child and adolescent psychiatric outpatient clinic (CAPOC) that served youth from predominantly metropolitan areas were included in the study. The telepsychiatry sites were linked using ISDN lines at 384 KB/sec. We examined these two samples regarding demographics, payor status, and diagnostic profiles. Results indicated that youth evaluated through the TPC were broadly comparable to youth evaluated in the CAPOC. Therefore, telepsychiatry appears to serve youth that are representative of those seeking psychiatric care, and it is not restricted to youth with no medical insurance or with selected diagnoses. The similarity of diagnoses further suggests that telepsychiatry provides adequate technical resolution and doctor-patient rapport to detect psychopathology of youths. These findings suggest the need for further systematic investigation of telepsychiatry as a tool for providing psychiatric care to young people.

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