Online Consultations in Mental Healthcare During the Covid-19 Outbreak: An International Survey Study on Uptake and Experiences

While the general uptake of e-mental health interventions remained low over the past years, physical distancing and quarantine measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic created a need and demand for online consultations and telepsychology in only a matter of weeks.

In a new study we investigated the uptake of online consultations provided by mental health professionals during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a specific focus on professionals’ motivations, perceived barriers, and concerns regarding online consultations.

An online survey on the use of online consultations was set up in March 2020. The Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) guided the deductive qualitative analysis of the results.

In total, 2,082 mental health professionals from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden were included. The results showed a high uptake of online consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic but limited previous training on this topic undergone by mental health professionals. Most professionals had positive experiences with online consultations, but questions about the performance of online consultations in a mental health context and practical considerations appear to be major barriers that hinder implementation.

This study provides an overview of the mental health professionals’ actual needs and concerns regarding the use of online consultations in order to highlight areas of possible intervention and allow the implementation of necessary governmental, educational, and instrumental support so that online consultation can become a feasible and long-term option in mental healthcare.

Read the pre-print:
De Witte NA, Carlbring P, Etzelmueller A, Nordgreen T, Karekla M, Haddouk L, Belmont A, Øverland S, Abi-Habib R, Bernaerts S, Brugnera A, Duque A, Ebert DD, Eimontas J, Kassianos AP, Salgado J, Schwerdtfeger A, Tohme P, Van Assche E, Van Daele T. Online Consultations in Mental Healthcare During the Covid-19 Outbreak: An International Survey Study on Uptake and Experiences.

JMIR Preprints. 16/12/2020:26541
DOI: 10.2196/preprints.26541

Photo: Mohamed Hassan