The Role of Telemedicine in Rural Mental Health Care Around the Globe


School of Communication and Media

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Through a qualitative systematic literature review ( = 12), this article seeks to better understand how telemedicine is used globally to address mental health needs within rural areas. This article highlights common barriers and advantages to providing this type of care, arguing that telemedicine services may be quite impactful in addressing mental health care needs in rural areas, but barriers, risks, and other cultural considerations must be considered when designing and implementing telemental health intervention programs. A search was conducted using PubMed, Google Scholar, PsychINFO, Medline, and SocINDEX. The inclusion criteria: (1) studies published between the years 2012 and 2019; (2) studies that met rigorous methodological criteria or analyzed telemedicine programs rigorously with evidence-based approaches; and (3) studies that specifically address or discuss tested telemedicine intervention programs for mental health in rural areas. Twelve articles of the 143 reviewed met the inclusion criteria. Themes included: (1) advantages (cost-effectiveness; accessibility, feasibility, and addressing disparities; privacy/confidentiality; integrative/collaborative care with primary care providers); (2) barriers and challenges (digital divides and infrastructure; ongoing care); (3) need for evaluation, evidence-based programs, and sustainability; and (4) across-cultural considerations. Future research examining the use of telemedicine in mental health intervention programs for rural areas should focus on various types of rural communities across the globe, diversifying the scope of this type of research and allowing for a better understanding of how to implement programs that address specific needs and barriers unique to rural communities across the globe.

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Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association





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