Has research been done to prove child & adolescent telepsychiatry works? What’s the evidence base?

Yes, children, adolescents, and families can benefit from telepsychiatry. In a variety of mental health conditions such as ADHD, autism, and OCD, studies have indicated that video visits are useful in accessing psychiatric specialists and improving symptoms.

In attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) studies with telepsychiatry, for instance, improvement in hyperactivity and combined ADHD has been shown in hundreds of children in randomized clinical trials, combining video visits with child psychiatrists along with caregiver behavior, versus treatment with their primary care providers augmented with telepsychiatry consults. In autism, clinicians can use telepsychiatry videoconferencing for diagnosis & assessment. And, in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), video visits reduced symptoms versus a waitlist control in a randomized clinical trial.

We additionally see video visits used to give behavioral parent training, with live therapists, showing treatment response and improvements in children ’s symptoms as well as easing of parental burden. Video visits can also help with parental coaching for children with autism, to help conduct home assessments, and for communication coaching.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides expert guidance on how to deliver psychiatric services to this population, including optimizing clinical visits. This guidance is assembled by experts on the Committee on Telepsychiatry and the Committee on Quality Issues.

Sources:

  • Myers K, vander Stoep A, Zhou C, et al. Effectiveness of a telehealth service delivery model for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: results of a community-based randomized controlled trial. J Amer Asso Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2015;54(4):263-74.
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Committee on Telepsychiatry and the Committee on Quality Issues. Clinical Update for Telepsychiatry with Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2017;56(10):875–893.
  • Comer JS, Furr JM, Miguel E, Cooper-Vince CE, Carpenter AL, …Myers KM & Chase R. Remotely delivering real-time parent training to the home: An initial randomized trial of Internet-delivered Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (I-PCIT). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 2017; 85 (9): 909–917.
  • Lee JF, Schieltz KM, Suess AN, Wacker DP, Romani PW, Lindgren SD, Kopelman TG, Padilla Dalmau YC. Guidelines for developing telehealth services and troubleshooting problems with telehealth technology when coaching parents to conduct functional analyses and functional communication training in their homes. Behavior Analysis Practice DOI 10.1007/s40617-014-0031-2; Published online 27 November 2014.
  • Myers K and Roth DE. Telepsychiatry with children and adolescents. In: Martin A, Volkmar FR, and Bloch MH (Eds), Lewis's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: A Comprehensive Textbook, 5th Edition. Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2018; Chapter 6.3.5.
  • Reese RM, Jamison R, Wendland M, Fleming K, Braun MJ, Schuttler JO et al. Evaluating interactive videoconferencing for assessing symptoms of autism. Telemedicine and J E Health. 2013;19(9):671-677.
  • Storch EA, Caporino NE, Morgan JR, Lewin AB, Rojas A, Brauer L et al. Preliminary investigation of web-camera delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy for youth with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychiatry Research. 2011;189(3):407-412.
  • Vander Stoep A, McCarty C, Zhou C, Rockhill CM, Schoenfelder E, Myers K. The Children’s Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Telemental Health Treatment Study: caregivers’ outcomes. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 2016; 45(1):27-43.
Last updated on 6th October 2020
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