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World Psychiatry. 2015 Jun;14(2):223-30. doi: 10.1002/wps.20218.

Telemental health: A status update.

Author information

1
OCD Clinic, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.
2
Department of Psychiatry, Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.

Abstract

A rather large body of literature now exists on the use of telemental health services in the diagnosis and management of various psychiatric conditions. This review aims to provide an up-to-date assessment of telemental health, focusing on four main areas: computerized CBT (cCBT), Internet-based CBT (iCBT), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), and mobile therapy (mTherapy). Four scientific databases were searched and, where possible, larger, better-designed meta-analyses and controlled trials were highlighted. Taken together, published studies support an expanded role for telepsychiatry tools, with advantages that include increased care access, enhanced efficiency, reduced stigma associated with visiting mental health clinics, and the ability to bypass diagnosis-specific obstacles to treatment, such as when social anxiety prevents a patient from leaving the house. Of technology-mediated therapies, cCBT and iCBT possess the most efficacy evidence, with VRET and mTherapy representing promising but less researched options that have grown in parallel with virtual reality and mobile technology advances. Nonetheless, telepsychiatry remains challenging because of the need for specific computer skills, the difficulty in providing patients with a deep understanding or support, concerns about the "therapeutic alliance", privacy fears, and the well documented problem of patient attrition. Future studies should further test the efficacy, advantages and limitations of technology-enabled CBT, as well as explore the online delivery of other psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological modalities.

KEYWORDS:

Internet-mediated cognitive behavioral therapy; Telemental health; depression; mobile apps; mobile therapy; obsessive-compulsive disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; short message service; social phobia; specific phobias; telepsychiatry; virtual reality exposure therapy

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