Telehealth and Rural Depression: Physician and Patient Perspectives

Jonathan J. Swinton, W. David Robinson, Richard J. Bischoff

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Due to a shortage of mental health professionals (MHPs) in rural areas, primary care physicians (PCP) are often the first, and in many cases, the only providers of depression treatment for rural individuals. This study was an investigation of the acceptability of behavioral telehealth to PCPs and patients with depression as a way of making mental health treatments more accessible to rural patients. The researchers conducted 10 focus groups across rural Nebraska with PCP's and patients they had treated for depression. A qualitative multiple-case study approach was used to analyze the transcriptions. The participants felt that behavioral telehealth is a reasonable solution to the access-to-care problem. They expressed concern that professional and therapeutic relationships would be difficult to maintain at a distance and they provided suggestions for how to preserve these relationships when using technology to deliver treatment such as focusing on fostering collaborative relationships between MHP's and PCPs. It is essential for MHPs and PCPs to develop and maintain a collaborative working relationship that will facilitate frequent communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-182
Number of pages11
JournalFamilies, Systems and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • depression
  • primary care
  • rural medicine
  • telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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