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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2014 Mar;22(3):263-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2013.01.037.

Telehealth problem-solving therapy for depressed low-income homebound older adults.



To evaluate the acceptance and preliminary efficacy of in-home telehealth delivery of problem-solving therapy (tele-PST) among depressed low-income homebound older adults in a pilot randomized control trial designed to test its feasibility and preliminary efficacy.


A total of 121 homebound individuals who were age 50+ and scored 15+ on the 24-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) participated in the three-arm randomized control trial, comparing tele-PST with in-person PST and telephone support calls. Six sessions of the PST-primary care were conducted for the PST participants. For tele-PST, sessions 2-6 were conducted via Skype video call. Acceptance of tele-PST or in-person PST was measured with the 11-item, 7-point scale modified Treatment Evaluation Inventory (TEI). A mixed-effect regression analysis was used to examine the effects of treatment group, time, and the interaction term between treatment group and time on the HAMD scores.


The TEI score was slightly higher among tele-PST participants than among in-person PST participants. The HAMD scores of tele-PST participants and in-person PST participants at a 12-week follow-up were significantly lower than those of telephone support call participants, and the treatment effects were maintained at a 24-week follow-up. The HAMD scores of tele-PST participants did not differ from those of in-person PST participants.


Despite their initial skepticism, almost all participants had extremely positive attitudes toward tele-PST at the 12-week followup. Tele-PST also appears to be an efficacious treatment modality for depressed homebound older adults and to have significant potential to facilitate their access to treatment.

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