Therapists who provide services to patients in the lower socioeconomic group, as well as couples and families, are less likely to continue teletherapy after the COVID-19 epidemic. According to a published study JMIR.
The study surveyed mental health professionals who are currently using telehealth between January and April last year about their practice, experience going to teletherapy and the characteristics of their clients. A total of 114 therapists in 27 states responded, with less than half reporting using telehealth before the epidemic.
The researchers found that therapists were more likely to continue to use post-epidemic teletherapy with a higher percentage of patients in rural areas, younger and older clients, Medicare patients, and clients with marginalized gender and religious identities.
“The results of the study indicate that while some clients are more likely to receive the benefits of group teletherapy, the weaker groups, such as those with lower socioeconomic status, may be less likely to receive services from Medicaid beneficiaries and those seeking couple and family therapy.” The author wrote.
“These differences point to the need to address issues such as telehealth care inequalities such as access to technology, housing and child care issues, as well as the need for continued training for licensed professionals.”
Why it matters
The researchers noted that further studies with different samples are necessary, as it is possible that participants are self-selected to participate and their experience may not be applicable to all therapists across the country.
But they argue that their study highlights potential structural barriers to teletherapy access for already disadvantaged groups. Since Medicaid and Medicare coverage for teletherapy began at the same time, it is possible that Medicaid clients do not have the resources, such as technology or Internet access, or that programs do not support the method at the state and local levels.
Researchers suggest Work with the therapist Couples and families may need more training to use teletherapy effectively with their clients and it may be more difficult to reduce conflict and manage multiple clients while practically working.
“Given that the epidemic has adversely affected those with less wealth, lower socio-economic status, the reduction in the use of teletherapy suggests that if structural accessibility issues are not addressed, vulnerable groups may be left behind.”
Although the use of telehealth has decreased According to FAIR Health’s monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, epidemic high, mental health diagnoses still make up the largest percentage of the telehealth demand line.
Others Studies and reports have identified potential inequalities in the use of virtual care. The National Committee for Quality Assurance published a white paper last month outlining the detailed challenges of optimal telehealth care, including the lack of broadband access, resources and education to overcome socio-economic barriers, and tools for people with intellectual, physical and intellectual disabilities.