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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 138-142

Telemedicine for mental health during COVID-19: Need and accessibility by patients of community outreach clinics

Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Ajeet Sidana
Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector-32, Chandigarh - 160 030
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmhhb.jmhhb_136_20

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Background: In the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, majority of the outpatient departments have been closed including psychiatry community outreach clinics (COCs). The only way to reach out to these patients has been the newly evolved telemedicine services. Aim and Objectives: The aim of the study is to study the need and accessibility of telemedicine services among patients of COCs. Methodology: The case record files of patients who got them registered in the COCs during January to March 2020 were taken out and sociodemographic, clinical, and contact details were retrieved. A 12-item questionnaire was prepared to know the current status of these patients and information about need and accessibility of telemedicine service for mental health over phone. Results: A total of 78 patients were interviewed. Mean age of the respondents was 43.90 years. The most common clinical diagnoses were neurotic, stress-related, and somatoform disorders followed by substance use disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia, including other psychotic disorders. About two-third of the respondents reported that their condition worsened over a period of 4 months after closure of COCs, while one-fourth patients could not purchase medicines due to nonrenewal of prescription. Only 2.4% of the respondents were aware about the existing telemedicine services in the hospital and 100% of the respondents agreed to consult telemedicine services after imparting the information and scope of telemedicine services. Conclusion: Sudden closure of COCs led to worsening of mental health status of already registered patients in the clinics. There were poor knowledge and accessibility of telemedicine service by the respondents. Information, education, and communication about telemedicine services increase the feasibility, acceptability, and accessibility of services.

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