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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2007;35(4):481-9.

The use of telemedicine to evaluate competency to stand trial: a preliminary randomized controlled study.

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Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA.


To investigate whether forensic evaluations can be performed reliably using telemedicine, we compared the results on a standard competency assessment instrument using telemedicine (TM) and live interviews (LI). Two board-certified forensic psychiatrists used the Georgia Court Competency Test (GCCT) to evaluate 21 forensic psychiatric inpatients. Half of the patients were randomly assigned to a telemedicine interview and half were assigned to a live interview. Total scores on the GCCT were similar for both raters, indicating high levels of agreement between telemedicine and live interviews. Patient and provider satisfaction were measured and indicated that, although patients did not express a preference for a particular interview modality, providers reported greater satisfaction with live interviews. Findings suggest that one aspect of competency to stand trial can be reliably evaluated using telemedicine and that patients perceive telemedicine as an acceptable alternative to a standard live interview. The limited sample size precludes definite conclusions and further studies involving a larger forensic study population are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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