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Patient Age Linked to Choice of Telepsychiatry Visit Type

Patients aged 44 years and older more likely to opt for telephone visits; telephone visit users less likely to anticipate future televisits

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THURSDAY, Jan. 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Patient age is associated with the choice of telepsychiatry visit type, and many patients report being likely to continue with telepsychiatry even after in-person visits are available, according to a study published in the December issue of JMIR Formative Research.

Jennifer Severe, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined use of telepsychiatry among 244 patients who had an in-person appointment date that fell in the first three weeks following the Michigan governor's stay-at-home order. Participants were surveyed by telephone between June and August 2020.

The researchers found that 82.8 and 13.5 percent of respondents chose to receive psychiatric care through video visits and telephone visits, respectively, while 1.2 percent decided to postpone care until in-person visit availability. There was a correlation seen for patient age with chosen visit type. Patients aged 44 years and older were more likely to opt for telephone visits than those aged 0 to 44 years (relative risk reduction, 1.2). About half of participants (46.7 percent) reported being likely to continue with telepsychiatry even after in-person visits were available. Future participation in telepsychiatry was considered less likely for telephone visit users versus video visit users. For most users, virtual visits met or exceeded expectations.

"Our results yielded high anticipation of continuous participation in telepsychiatry even after in-person visits become available," the authors write. "This enthusiasm should compel state, federal, and private entities to strongly consider ongoing funding and regulatory models to support telepsychiatry both during the ongoing pandemic and beyond."

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