A pilot program in rural telepsychiatry for deaf and hard of hearing populations.

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BACKGROUND: Access to mental health care in deaf communities is limited by cultural considerations, availability of translators, and technological considerations. Telepsychiatry can mitigate the deaf community's lack of access to care by allowing for deaf individuals in remote communities access to care with facilities that cater to their needs.

METHODS: Community Behavioral Health, Arundel Lodge, and Gallaudet University worked in conjunction to test three hypotheses: 1.Telepsychiatry will be as effective as traditional face-to-face psychotherapy with deaf adults who have chronic mental illness.2.Patients living in remote locations will report an improvement in accessibility to mental health services.3.Patients who receive telepsychiatry will report a comparable level of satisfaction of services to those receiving traditional services. The patient sample consisted of 24 participants, 13 women, 11 men. Telepsychiatry sessions were scheduled based on each patient's individual treatment plan against a control group who saw their providers face to face.

RESULTS: The telepsychiatry and in-person groups were slightly different at baseline. Analysis of the data revealed no significant difference in coping abilities and psychiatric symptoms between those receiving face-to-face psychotherapy and those receiving telepsychiatry.

INTERPRETATION: The quality and outcome of care was equal to in-person for the telepsychiatry in deaf patients. Since telepsychiatry does not compromise the quality of care, it is a good means of reaching out to members of the deaf community that cannot readily access mental health resources that meet their needs.


Reproduced with permission of Elsevier B.V. Heliyon

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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