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J Nerv Ment Dis ; 209(8): 543-546, 2021 08 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1234178


ABSTRACT: Social distancing due to COVID-19 may adversely impact treatment of adults with serious mental illness, especially those receiving intensive forms of community-based care, in part through weakening of the therapeutic alliance. Veterans and staff at a Veterans Affair (VA) medical center were surveyed 3 months after social distancing disrupted usual service delivery in intensive community-based treatment programs. Veterans (n = 105) and staff (n = 112) gave similar multi-item ratings of service delivery after social distancing, which involved far less face-to-face contact and more telephone contact than usual and rated their therapeutic alliances and clinical status similarly as "not as good" on average than before social distancing. Self-reported decline in therapeutic alliance was associated with parallel decline in clinical status indicators. Both veterans and staff indicated clear preference for return to face-to-face service delivery after the pandemic with some telehealth included.

Attitude of Health Personnel , COVID-19 , Case Management/standards , Community Mental Health Services/standards , Delivery of Health Care/standards , Patient Preference , Physical Distancing , Telemedicine/standards , Therapeutic Alliance , Adult , COVID-19/prevention & control , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , United States , United States Department of Veterans Affairs , Veterans
JMIR Ment Health ; 8(3): e25542, 2021 Mar 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1133828


BACKGROUND: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many behavioral health services have transitioned to teletherapy to continue delivering care for patients with mental illness. Studies that evaluate the outcome of this rapid teletherapy adoption and implementation are pertinent. OBJECTIVE: This single-arm, nonrandomized pilot study aimed to assess the feasibility and initial patient-level outcomes of a psychiatric transitional day program that switched from an in-person group to a video teletherapy group during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Patients with transdiagnostic conditions who were at risk of psychiatric hospitalization were referred to the Adult Transitions Program (ATP) at a large academic medical center in the United States. ATP was a 3-week intensive outpatient program that implemented group teletherapy guided by cognitive and behavioral principles delivered daily for 3 hours per day. Feasibility was assessed via retention, attendance rate, and rate of securing aftercare appointments prior to ATP discharge. Patients completed standardized patient-reported outcome measures at admission and discharge to assess the effectiveness of the program for improving quality of mental health, depression, anxiety, and suicide risk. RESULTS: Patients (N=76) started the program between March and August of 2020. Feasibility was established, with 70 of the 76 patients (92%) completing the program and a mean attendance of 14.43 days (SD 1.22); also, 71 patients (95%) scheduled at least one behavioral health aftercare service prior to ATP discharge. All patient-level reported outcomes demonstrated significant improvements in depression (95% CI -3.6 to -6.2; Cohen d=0.77; P<.001), anxiety (95% CI -3.0 to -4.9; Cohen d=0.74; P<.001), overall suicide risk (95% CI -0.5 to -0.1; Cohen d=0.41; P=.02), wish to live (95% CI 0.3 to 1.0; Cohen d=0.39; P<.001), wish to die (95% CI -0.2 to -1.4; Cohen d=0.52; P=.01), and overall mental health (95% CI 1.5 to 4.5; Cohen d=0.39; P<.001) from admission to discharge. CONCLUSIONS: Rapid adoption and implementation of a group-based teletherapy day program for adults at risk of psychiatric hospitalization appeared to be feasible and effective. Patients demonstrated high completion and attendance rates and reported significant improvements in psychosocial outcomes. Larger trials should be conducted to further evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of the program through randomized controlled trials.