Videoconferencing Technology for Clinical Purposes: Opinions and Experiences of New Zealand Clinical Psychologists and Neuropsychologists
Objective: Telehealth is a distanced method for delivery of traditionally in-person clinical psychological and neuropsychological services. Much of the current research has focused on feasibility of the method and there is a lack of data on clinicians' perspectives of telehealth. This research will explore current experiences and opinions of clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists on telehealth practising in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Method: An anonymous sample of registered and practicing neuropsychologists and clinical psychologists were recruited to complete an online survey between August and October 2021. Closed-ended questions were analysed using SPSS and open-ended questions were analysed using a descriptive inductive Thematic Analysis method and Nvivo software. The survey queried non-identifiable demographic and practice details, prior knowledge of telehealth, clinical experience and explored telehealth in the context of three common practise aspects including: history taking interviews, assessments, and therapy/interventions.
Results: A total of 88 participants responded to the survey and results showed that 90% had used videoconference for clinical purposes. The mean clinical experience of the sample was 14.5 years, age ranged between 20 and 79 years and 78% were female. Assessments were the least common service used via telehealth (n = 19), more so history taking interviews (n = 62) and most for therapy and intervention (n = 71). Respondents spoke positively of Telehealth for use in specific circumstances. Thematic analysis identified four themes which illustrated professional opinions on the use of telehealth for clinical purposes: Accessibility of clinical services, client and clinician specific considerations, practical considerations, and shifts in the therapeutic relationship.
Conclusions: Results of this study generated deeper insight into the current real-world practice of TH in NZ, by exploring the use and acceptability of TH from the perspective of clinically practicing psychologists in the context of rapid uptake during COVID-19. The study reinforced the importance of monitoring relative outcomes and effectiveness of TH for different areas of psychological practise, as requirements differed across different services and treatments.