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Videoconferencing in psychiatry, a meta-analysis of assessment and treatment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

A. Drago*
Institut for Klinisk Medicin - Psykiatrisk Forskningsenhed Vest, Herning, Denmark
T.N. Winding
Danish Ramazzini Centre, Department of Occupational Medicine, Regional Hospital Herning, Herning, Denmark
N. Antypa
Department of Clinical Psychology, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Corresponding author.
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Videoconferencing in psychiatry allows psychiatric counseling to be dealt remotely. A number of human randomised clinical trials (RCTs) on this topic were conducted but not systematically analysed since 2005.


A meta-analysis was undertaken to test the hypothesis of non-inferiority of remote psychiatric counseling, including both assessment and treatment, compared to face-to-face setting. Focus of research was the general psychiatric approach, which includes pharmacotherapy, counseling and some not specific psychotherapeutic techniques such as listening, reformulation and clarification among others. Specific forms of psychotherapies were not included in this analysis.


RCTs including ≥ 10 subjects per arm were identified in Medline, the Cochrane Library, Embase and the reference list of single papers. A random-effect and a mixed-effect model served for test the hypothesis under analysis.


Twenty-six RCTs were included in the analysis, involving 765 (assessment) and 1585 patients (efficacy). The non-inferiority of remote psychiatric counseling was reported both for assessment and treatment. Heterogeneity could not be excluded for assessment, but was excluded for treatment while taking into account clinical and study related variables (P-values = 0.003 and 0.06, respectively).


High levels of consistency between remote and in vivo psychiatric assessment is reported. Efficacy of remote psychiatric counseling was shown to be not inferior compared to in vivo settings. Heterogeneity could not be excluded for assessment, and further analyses are mandatory. The presence of multiple diagnoses included in the analysis was a limit of the present investigation.

Copyright © European Psychiatric Association 2016

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