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Implementation strategies for telemental health: a systematic review

Appleton, R., Barnett, P., San Juan, N. V. , Tuudah, E., Lyons, N., Parker, J., Roxburgh, E., Spyridonidis, S., Tamworth, C., Worden, M., Yilmaz, M., Sevdalis, N., Lloyd-Evans, B., Needle, J. J. ORCID: 0000-0003-0727-1391 & Johnson, S. Implementation strategies for telemental health: a systematic review. doi: 10.1101/2022.04.29.22274367


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rapid shift from traditional face-to-face care provision towards delivering mental health care remotely through telecommunications, often referred to as telemental health care. However, the manner and extent of telemental health implementation have varied considerably across settings and areas, and substantial barriers are encountered. There is, therefore, now a need to identify what works best for service users and staff and establish the key mechanisms for efficient integration into routine care.

Objective: We aimed to identify investigations of pre-planned strategies intended to achieve or improve effective and sustained implementation of telemental health approaches, and to evaluate how different strategies influence implementation outcomes.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted, with five databases searched for relevant literature using any methodological approach, published between January 2010 and July 2021. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they took place in secondary or tertiary mental health services and focused on pre-planned strategies for achieving or improving delivery of mental health care through remote communication between mental health professionals or between mental health professionals and service users, family members, unpaid carers, or peer supporters. All included studies were assessed for risk of bias. Data were synthesised using the Expert Recommendations for Implementing Change (ERIC) compilation of implementation strategies and the taxonomy of implementation outcomes.

Results: A total of 14 studies were identified which met the inclusion criteria. A variety of implementation strategies were identified, the most commonly reported being ‘Train and educate stakeholders’. All studies reported using a combination of several implementation strategies.

Conclusions: Using a combination of implementation strategies appears to be a helpful method of supporting the implementation of telemental health. Further research is needed to test the impact of specific implementation strategies on implementation outcomes.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Telemental health; implementation; mental health; systematic review; remote care; telemedicine; telepsychiatry
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
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