Most US adults welcome an expansion of telehealth services, with 59% saying they would use telehealth for mental health care, according to new public opinion poll sponsored by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
“Continued access to telehealth during and after the pandemic is vital, and the poll indicates increasing public support for it,” said APA CEO and medical director Saul Levin, MD, MPA, Washington, DC. “As we continue to face the long tail of the pandemic, we have an opportunity to innovate and continue to improve access through telehealth.”
The online survey, conducted between March 26, 2021, and April 5, 2021, spanned a sample of 1,000 adults in the United States.
Among respondents, 38% said they have used telehealth to meet with a medical or mental health professional—82% of whom having done so since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, 69% used video, while 38% used phone calls only.
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The percentage of respondents who would use telehealth services for mental health care grew from 49% in 2020 to 59% in the current poll. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, 66% expressed that they would use telehealth for mental health care, compared with 36% of adults aged 65 and older.
Percentages of Blacks, Hispanics, and whites who would use telehealth for mental health services were similar, ranging between 58% and 61%.
The survey also found that scheduling mental health appointments has been difficult for many respondents. One in three Americans who tried to schedule a mental health appointment over the past several years reported difficulties in their attempt. Compared with whites, African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to encounter problems. Similarly, younger adults were more likely to experience challenges making appointments than older adults.
“The quick pivot to providing telehealth services at the start of the pandemic was vital to providing continued access to care, and this poll shows the important potential role for telehealth going forward,” said APA president Vivian Pender, MD. “Telepsychiatry especially helps those facing barriers, such as lack of transportation, the inability to take time off work for appointments, or family responsibilities.”
New nationwide poll shows an increased popularity for telehealth services [press release]. Washington, DC; American Psychiatric Association; May 27, 2021.
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