Background The emergence of the Covid19 pandemic in March 2019 necessitated the move from entirely face to face Clinical Psychology provision within the Coventry Specialist Palliative Care team (SPCT), to virtual consultations only. Swift adaption of service provision was essential in a rapidly changing situation and in the best interests of a vulnerable patient population. Virtual approaches were initially via telephone, incorporating videoconferencing platforms once safe systems were established. During this time, virtual psychological therapy became treatment as usual. Research on remote working is sparse but largely encouraging (Markowitz et al, 2021; Lenfernick, Meyerbroker & Boelen, 2020; Morland et al, 2020). This is a small-scale qualitative evaluation of service users experience of using telephone support during the pandemic.
Method Five participants were selected for inclusion. Inclusion criteria comprised all patients who were well enough and who had received telephone psychological intervention during this timeframe. Consent was gained by a trainee psychologist, via telephone. This was to ensure that participants could talk freely about the psychologist that they had worked with. Questions included: what went well; what went less well; what approach patients would choose given a choice; speed of response time considerations on choice; impact on therapeutic rapport; and future suggestions.
Results All respondents reported that they found telephone support helpful. Participants felt it did not impact upon therapeutic rapport. Benefits include ease of access to psychologist and shorter wait time. Suggestions were made for future blended approaches, incorporating virtual and face to face options.
Conclusion The sample size is small; however, this is an ongoing challenge within palliative populations given complex and unstable physical health. This is a promising start in understanding how virtual approaches can better support psychological provision in the SPCT. Benefits include shorter wait time. Future evaluation of videoconferencing and mixed approaches is recommended.
BPS Guidance: Returning to the workplace. Safety considerations for practicing psychologists. The British Psychological Society (22.05.20).
Berryhill MB, Culmer N, Williams N, et al: Videoconferencing psychotherapy and depression: a systemic review. Telemed J E Health 2019;25:435–446.
Lenfernick LIM, Meyerbroker H, Boelen PA. (2020). PTSD treatment in times of Covid19: a systemic review of the effects of online EMDR. Psychiatry Research, 293.
Markowitz JC, Milrod B, Heckman TG, Bergman MS, Amsalem D, Zalman H, Ballas T, Neria Y. (2021). American Journal of Psychiatry, 178.3.
Morland LA, Wells SY, Glassman LH, Greene CJ, Hoffman JE, Rosen CS. (2020). Advances in PTSD Treatment Delivery: Review of Findings and Clinical Considerations for the Use of Telehealth Interventions for PTSD. Current Treatment Options Psychiatry 7:221–241.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.