A recent study found that remote behavioral health is nearly as effective as face-to-face care when it comes to reducing depression and anxiety in rural populations. study found.
This study, published in BMC Psychiatry, used the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to measure depression and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) to measure anxiety. and analyzed 1,514 patients. PHQ-9 score out of 27 points and GAD-7 out of 21 points. The researchers compared the patient’s baseline scores with his 1-month follow-up. They found a mean reduction in PHQ-9 scores of 2.8 points in the telemedicine group and 2.9 points in the face-to-face group. GAD-7 score reduction averaged 2 points in the telemedicine group and 2.4 points in the face-to-face group.
“This study suggests that remote behavioral health care delivered to rural areas is as effective as face-to-face care for symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s an important reassurance that telehealth continues to expand beyond the surge,” said the researchers.
To conduct the study, researchers looked at the results of two federally-funded programs. One is the Evidence-Based Remote Behavioral Health Network program funded from September 2018 to August 2021. The second is the Substance Abuse Treatment Telemedicine Network Grant Program funded from September 2017 to August 2020. ‘ 17 grant recipients and 95 affiliated sites. Each funded subject had data from both telemedicine and in-person patients.
People in rural areas have particularly struggled to access behavioral health care, according to reports, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. Stigma is often a barrier, with rural residents typically having to travel long distances to receive care, having higher poverty rates, lower education and health literacy rates, and less likelihood of obtaining insurance. Women and minority groups also have other problems due to parenting and discrimination.
“While the pandemic has exacerbated underlying mental health problems for many Americans, barriers to accessing mental health care have existed for years,” the researchers said.
Telemedicine is often cited as a solution for reaching rural populations, especially for behavioral health, due to its privacy and convenience. However, the researchers argue that there are not many studies comparing TVHeavier health with face-to-face care in rural areas.
“Randomized controlled trials and subsequent reviews have shown efficacy for telebehavioral health and failed to detect significant differences between face-to-face and telemedicine interventions,” the study said. However, many studies to date have limited generalizability, often lack diversity in patient populations, and often underrepresent rural and minority patients in real-world situations, particularly rural areas. More pragmatic studies are needed to understand its effectiveness among people in the department.”
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