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J Telemed Telecare. 2004;10(4):187-92.

Videoconferencing in child and adolescent telepsychiatry: a systematic review of the literature.

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  • 1Clinic of Child Psychiatry, Department of Paediatrics, Oulu University Hospital, Finland.


A systematic review of child and adolescent telepsychiatry was conducted. It was based on a search of the electronic databases MEDLINE and PsycINFO covering the period 1966 to June 2003. Studies were selected for review if they concerned videoconferencing for patient care or consultation, evaluated a clinical service or education, or assessed satisfaction with videoconferences. Twenty-seven articles were identified that fulfilled the selection criteria. These comprised two reports of randomized controlled experiments, 10 of descriptive questionnaire studies or observational surveys, seven case studies and eight other reports. Only three of the studies presented some calculations of cost-effectiveness. When classified by 'Quality of Evidence' criteria, only two studies were in category I (the highest), one was in II-2 and the rest fell into category III (the lowest). Most studies of child and adolescent telepsychiatry examined satisfaction with videoconferencing or described programmes or care regimens. Videoconferencing seemed to improve the accessibility of services and served an educational function. Some papers also mentioned savings in time, costs and travel. Problems with non-verbal communication and the audiovisual quality of the videoconference were mentioned as drawbacks. Telepsychiatry therefore seems to offer several benefits, at least in sparsely populated regions. Well designed and properly controlled trials are required to evaluate the clinical value of this promising method in child psychiatry, where there is a constantly increasing need for services.

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