Real-Time Telehealth Versus Face-to-Face Management for Patients With PTSD in Primary Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis


Objective: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing real-time telehealth (video, phone) with face-to-face therapy delivery to individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), by primary or allied health care practitioners.

Data Sources: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Central (inception to November 18, 2020); conducted a citation analysis on included studies (January 7, 2021) in Web of Science; and searched and WHO ICTRP (March 25, 2021). No language or publication date restrictions were used.

Study Selection: From 4,651 individual records screened, 13 trials (27 references) met the inclusion criteria.

Data Extraction: Data on PTSD severity, depression severity, quality of life, therapeutic alliance, and treatment satisfaction outcomes were extracted.

Results: There were no differences between telehealth and face-to-face for PTSD severity (at 6 months: standardized mean difference [SMD]  = −0.11; 95% CI, −0.28 to 0.06), depression severity (at 6 months: SMD = −0.02; 95% CI, −0.26 to 0.22; P = .87), therapeutic alliance (at 3 months: SMD = 0.04; 95% CI, −0.51 to 0.59; P = .90), or treatment satisfaction (at 3 months: mean difference = 3.09; 95% CI, −7.76 to 13.94; P = .58). One trial reported similar changes in quality of life in telehealth and face-to-face.

Conclusions: Telehealth appears to be a viable alternative for care provision to patients with PTSD. Trials evaluating therapy provision by telephone, and in populations other than veterans, are warranted.

Volume: 83

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