Telepsychiatry in the Assessment and Treatment of SchizophreniaAuthor(s): John Kasckow, Kandi Felmet, Cathleen Appelt, Robert Thompson, Armando Rotondi, Gretchen Haas
Background: Telehealth technology has become more available to providers as a means of treating chronic diseases. Consideration of the applicability of telehealth technology in the treatment of schizophrenia calls for a review of the evidence base in light of the special needs and challenges in the treatment of this population. Our aims are to assess the types and nature of distant interventions for patients with schizophrenia, either telephone-based, internet-based or video-based telehealth systems. Methods: The following databases—MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, the Cochrane Library, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, and EMBASE— were searched for the following terms alone or in combination with schizophrenia: telepsychiatry or telemedicine or telepsychology or satellite communication or remote communication. Inclusion criteria were: 1) articles dealing with telephone-, internet- or video-based interventions and 2) studies emphasizing development of an intervention, feasibility or clinical trials. Exclusions included were: 1) single case reports and 2) papers not written in English. With our search terms, we retrieved a total of 390 articles, of which 18 unique articles were relevant. Results: Based on the limited data available, the use of modalities involving the telephone, internet and videoconferencing appears to be feasible in patients with schizophrenia. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests these modalities appear to improve patient outcomes. Discussion: More research is needed. Investigators need to improve existing telehealth systems. In addition, researchers need to focus on developing newer interventions and determining whether these approaches can improve patient outcomes.