Demographic Predictors of Telehealth Use for Integrated Psychological Services in Primary Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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J Racial Ethn Health Disparities


OBJECTIVE: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, growing mental health needs were well documented, particularly those of diverse patient populations. The current study aims to better understand racial and psychosocial factors associated with patient utilization of integrated psychological services via telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic within a diverse primary care clinic.

METHODS: Retrospective chart reviews were completed for patients seen by an integrated psychology team within a general internal medicine clinic at a large urban health system during the year 2020. Demographics were extracted from the medical record. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine demographic predictors for (1) telehealth video visits vs. audio only telehealth visits and (2) in-person vs. telehealth visits (both video and audio).

RESULTS: Older patients, Black patients, and those with Medicare and Medicaid were more likely to complete audio only telehealth visits vs. video visits. There were no significant demographic predictors when comparing in-person vs. telehealth (both video and audio).

DISCUSSION: Some underserved and vulnerable patient populations are more likely to utilize audio-only integrated psychological visits to video visits. The utilization of audio visits over video for certain demographics speaks to the need to better understand how this type of care may benefit psychological services in the future and continued advocacy to extend audio mental health visits beyond the public health emergency to address patient populations with significant mental health needs.

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ePub ahead of print