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Telepsychiatry Use in Rural Areas in the United States: A Literature Review of the Benefits

Telepsychiatry Use in Rural Areas in the United States: A Literature Review of the Benefits
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Author(s): Alberto Coustasse (Marshall University, USA), Morgan Ruley (Marshall University, USA), Tonnie C. Mike (Marshall University, USA), Briana M. Washington (Marshall University, USA) and Anna Robinson (Marshall University, USA)
Copyright: 2020
Volume: 13
Issue: 4
Pages: 13
Source title: Journal of Information Technology Research (JITR)
Editor(s)-in-Chief: Francisco José García-Peñalvo (University of Salamanca, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/JITR.2020100101

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Abstract

Rural areas have experienced a higher than average shortage of healthcare professionals. Numerous challenges have limited access to mental health services. Some of these barriers have included transportation, number of providers, poverty, and lack of insurance. Recently, the utilization of telepsychiatry has increased in rural areas. The purpose of this review was to identify and coalesce the benefits of telepsychiatry for adults living in rural communities in the United States to determine if telepsychiatry has improved access and quality of care. The methodology for this study was a literature review that followed a systematic approach. References and sources were written in English and were taken from studies in the United States between 2004 and 2018 to keep this review current. Fifty-nine references were selected from five databases. It was found that several studies supported that telepsychiatry has improved access and quality of care available in rural environments. At the same time, telepsychiatry in mental healthcare has not been utilized as it should in rural adult populations due to lack of access, an overall shortage of providers, and poor distribution of psychiatrists. There are numerous benefits to implementing telepsychiatry in rural areas. While there are still barriers that prevent widespread utilization, telepsychiatry can improve mental health outcomes by linking rural patients to high-quality mental healthcare services that follow evidence-based care and best practices. Telepsychiatry utilization in rural areas in the United States has demonstrated to have a significant ability to transform mental health care delivery and clinician productivity. As technology continues to advance access, telepsychiatry will also advance, making access more readily available.

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