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Psychotherapy for Depression in Older Veterans Via Telemedicine: Effect on Quality of Life, Satisfaction, Treatment Credibility, and Service Delivery Perception

Leonard E. Egede, MD, MS; Ron Acierno, PhD; Rebecca G. Knapp, PhD; Rebekah J. Walker, PhD; Elizabeth H. Payne, PhD; and B. Christopher Frueh, PhD

Published: December 28, 2016

Article Abstract

Objective: To analyze the impact of telepsychology and same-room care on functioning, satisfaction, and perception of care based on a noninferiority trial of psychotherapy delivered via telemedicine or same-room care to elderly patients with depression.

Methods: 241 elderly patients with depression (meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria) were randomly assigned to either telemedicine (n = 120) or same-room treatment (n = 121) between April 1, 2007, and July 31, 2011. The primary outcomes included quality of life (36-item Short Form Survey [SF-36]), satisfaction (Charleston Psychiatric Outpatient Satisfaction Scale), treatment credibility, and service delivery perception scores obtained at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, and 12 months. Comparisons of intervention means were carried out at each time point using independent sample t tests and SAS Procedure MIANALYZE to combine results across the multiply imputed complete data sets. If significant differences were detected for a given outcome within a domain, a Bonferroni correction was applied to determine if significance was maintained.

Results: None of the SF-36 scores showed a significant difference between the 2 treatment groups by the end of the study period, with little significance shown throughout the intermediate time points. Similarly, over all time points, there was no statistically significant difference in patient satisfaction or treatment credibility.

Conclusions: This study found that telemedicine is a viable alternative modality for providing evidence-based psychotherapy for elderly patients with depression. Results provide evidence that quality of life and satisfaction with care are not adversely influenced by the decision to use a telehealth modality instead of in-person treatment, and, as a result, resources can be devoted to offering services in patients’ homes through telemedicine.

Trial Registration: identifier: NCT00324701

Volume: 77

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