Pediatric Telepsychiatry in Ontario: Caregiver and Service Provider Perspectives
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Families in rural areas face significant geographic and economic obstacles to obtaining pediatric mental health services. Telepsychiatry promises the possibility of extending specialized expertise into areas that have no resident psychiatrists. In this study, user perspectives and experiences of a pediatric telepsychiatry program serving rural communities in Ontario, Canada, were explored. Qualitative, exploratory methods were utilized because of the complex nature of mental health services needs and provision in rural communities. Focus groups with rural mental health service providers and interviews with family caregivers of children receiving a telepsychiatry consultation were conducted. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the benefits and limitations of providing pediatric psychiatric services via video-technology to inform future program development and health policy. Whereas participants in the study indicated that their experiences with the telepsychiatry service had been positive, the need for additional local services to support treatment recommendations was emphasized.
Key WordsChildren’s mental health telemedicine health policy program evaluation qualitative methods health care delivery
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and the cooperation and administrative support of the Telepsychiatry Program, Hospital for Sick Children.
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