Introduction eHealth has accelerated with COVID-19. Studies indicate it benefits patients’ wellbeing and helps educate healthcare providers and families. Reviews highlight eHealth’s acceptability to service users, but with concerns that enthusiasm is overshadowing evidence of eHealth’s feasibility and effectiveness. Systematic reviews highlight a lack of information about digital psychosocial interventions in palliative care, despite evidence that these are being implemented to support the psychological, social and spiritual wellbeing of this population.
Aims To determine the extent and type of evidence for digitally-enabled psychosocial interventions being offered to, or utilised by, adults with palliative care needs.
Method Scoping review, using Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for scoping reviews. Four databases were searched for published research studies for a palliative care population between January 2011-April 2021: MEDLINE; CINAHL; PsycINFO; Academic Search Ultimate. Titles and abstracts were screened by three independent reviewers, full texts read, and data extracted for characteristics, contexts, evaluations and outcomes of digitally-enabled psychosocial interventions.
Results The search retrieved 310 unique citations; 194 were irrelevant and removed,116 full-text studies were assessed for eligibility, and a further 92 excluded. Data extraction was carried out on 24 studies.
Conclusion Studies from US, UK, Europe, and Asia detailed a range of research designs and digital health interventions delivered by telephone, SMS, email, videoconference and website. Psychoeducation and counselling were therapeutic approaches most investigated, and most studies’ participants received interventions synchronously, and in their own homes. Personnel delivering interventions included nurses, counsellors, psychologists or various professionals including students. Evaluation used standardised quantitative and qualitative tools.
Impact COVID-19 has accelerated usages of digitally-enabled psychosocial interventions. Understanding what research shows about their characteristics, contexts, and outcomes for palliative care will be valuable as organisations endeavour to offer effective emotional support to patients and families with digital technology.
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