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Telemed J E Health. 2012 Apr;18(3):244-6. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2011.0107. Epub 2012 Feb 22.

Rural mental health: implications for telepsychiatry in clinical service, workforce development, and organizational capacity.

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Department of Psychiatry, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai'i-Manoa , Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813, USA.


In Hawai'i, rural residents suffer disproportionately from poor health and mental health outcomes. Hawai'i's island geography makes rural health service disparities especially compelling. Physician workforce shortages are projected to increase, despite 30 years of programs aimed at recruiting physicians to rural areas. Telepsychiatry has been shown to be a feasible way to provide a variety of health services to individuals living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare. The University of Hawai'i Rural Health Collaboration (UHRHC) was established by the Department of Psychiatry to address the need for workforce development and rural access to mental health services across the State of Hawai'i by using telepsychiatry. Partnerships with community health clinics have been formed to provide patient care and consultation-liaison services through telepsychiatry technology. In addition, UHRHC focuses on workforce development in its residency training curriculum by utilizing a service-learning approach to rural mental health. Evaluation of these efforts is currently underway, with preliminary evidence suggesting that UHRHC is a promising strategy to increase access to critical mental health services and reduce health disparities in rural Hawai'i.

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