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J Telemed Telecare. 2006;12(3):116-21.

Cultural aspects of telepsychiatry.

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  • 1American Indian and Alaska Native Programs, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, 80045, USA.


Telepsychiatry may involve working with clinicians, patients and systems of care that are both geographically and culturally distinct. In this context, culturally appropriate care is an important component of telepsychiatry. The outline for cultural formulation from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) provides general principles for addressing these issues. Two components of the outline are particularly relevant in telepsychiatry: (1) how the cultural background of patients (i.e. their cultural identity) influences their comfort with technology; and (2) the effect of cultural differences on the patient-provider relationship. Cultural differences between patient and provider are often highlighted in telepsychiatry by the patient and provider location (e.g. rural versus urban differences). Familiarity with the rural community and regular contact and feedback are important. Future research should examine the effect of telepsychiatry on patient-provider relationships, patient attitudes towards care and, most importantly, patient outcomes.

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