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Telepsychology Use Up 12-Fold in the U.S. During Pandemic

However, adoption of telepsychology has varied according to individual and practice characteristics

FRIDAY, Sept. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The use of telepsychology has increased dramatically during the pandemic, but not all psychologists will continue to use it after the pandemic, according to a study published online Aug. 20 in American Psychologist.

Bradford S. Pierce, from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues evaluated psychologists’ telepsychology use before the COVID-19
pandemic, during the pandemic, and anticipated use after the pandemic. Analysis included survey responses from 2,619 licensed U.S. psychologists.

The researchers found that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, psychologists performed 7.07 percent of their clinical work with telepsychology, which increased to 85.53 percent during the pandemic. More than two-thirds of respondents (67.32 percent) report conducting all of their clinical work with telepsychology. More than one-third of psychologists (34.96 percent) anticipate continuing their clinical work via telepsychology after the pandemic. Telepsychology use during the pandemic has varied, with psychologists working in outpatient treatment facilities reporting over a 26-fold increase in telepsychology use during the pandemic versus a seven-fold increase among psychologists working in Veterans Affairs medical centers. Telepsychology use occurred more frequently among women; psychologists reporting telepsychology training and supportive organizational telepsychology policies; and psychologists who treat relationship issues, anxiety, and women’s issues. Lowest telepsychology use was reported by psychologists working in rural areas, treating antisocial personality disorder, performing testing and evaluation, and treating rehabilitation populations.

“Although there was a remarkable increase in telepsychology use during the COVID-19 pandemic, individual and practice characteristics affected psychologists’ ability to adopt telepsychology,” the authors write.

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