Attitudes of psychiatrists toward telepsychiatry: A policy Delphi study

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Abstract

Objectives: To delineate areas of consensus and disagreements among practicing psychiatrists from various levels of clinical experience, hierarchy and organizations, and to test their ability to converge toward agreement, which will enable better integration of telepsychiatry into mental health services. Methods: To study attitudes of Israeli public health psychiatrists, we utilized a policy Delphi method, during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. In-depth interviews were conducted and analyzed, and a questionnaire was generated. The questionnaire was disseminated amongst 49 psychiatrists, in two succeeding rounds, and areas of consensus and controversies were identified. Results: Psychiatrists showed an overall consensus regarding issues of economic and temporal advantages of telepsychiatry. However, the quality of diagnosis and treatment and the prospect of expanding the usage of telepsychiatry to normal circumstances—beyond situations of pandemic or emergency were disputed. Nonetheless, efficiency and willingness scales slightly improved during the 2nd round of the Delphi process. Prior experience with telepsychiatry had a strong impact on the attitude of psychiatrists, and those who were familiar with this practice were more favorable toward its usage in their clinic. Conclusions: We have delineated experience as a major impact on the attitudes toward telepsychiatry and the willingness for its assimilation in clinical practice as a legitimate and trustworthy method. We have also observed that the organizational affiliation significantly affected psychiatrists’ attitude, when those working at local clinics were more positive toward telepsychiatry compared with employees of governmental institutions. This might be related to experience and differences in organizational environment. Taken together, we recommend to include hands-on training of telepsychiatry in medical education curriculum during residency, as well as refresher exercises for attending practitioners.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Health
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Keywords

  • computer-assisted diagnosis
  • high-income countries
  • internet-based intervention
  • mental health
  • middle-income countries
  • organizational culture
  • remote consultation
  • rural health services
  • telemedicine
  • telepsychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Information Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications

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