Telepsychiatry- Based Care for the Treatment Follow-Up of Iranian War Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Background: Physical limitations, distance, and time are major obstacles to access to mental health services for veterans and soldiers. This study was aimed at comparing the efficacy of telepsychiatry and face-to-face consultation as methods of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The comparison was based on treatment costs, access to health services, completion of therapy sessions, and patient satisfaction as variables.
Methods: This research was a double blinded clinical trial supported by Tabriz University of Medical Sciences and conducted in 2015 to 2016 in Tabriz, Iran. Totally, 60 patients were included in the study. Through simple randomization, the patients were divided into experimental and control groups, both of whom were treated through face-to-face consultations for the first 3 sessions. Six follow-up sessions were then held remotely with the experimental group and face to face with the control group. Data were collected using a self-designed and reliable questionnaire and entered in SPSS, version 16. Intergroup comparisons were performed using descriptive statistical measures. Finally, the results were tested using the t test method.
Results: A significant relationship was found between the use of information technology and increased patient satisfaction, completion of therapy sessions, and reduction in treatment costs; however, no significant difference was found between the groups in terms of reduction in waiting time and access to a psychiatrist.
Conclusion: Telepsychiatry is an effective means of delivering mental health services to psychiatric outpatients living in remote areas with limited resources. The results provide preliminary support for the use of telepsychiatry in treating PTSD and improving access to care.
Trial Registration Number: IRCT2016020826449N1
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pISSN: 0253-0716 eISSN: 1735-3688