Internalizing symptoms impede adolescents’ ability to transition from in-person to online mental health services during the 2019 coronavirus disease pandemic

Ehud Mekori-Domachevsky*, Noam Matalon, Yael Mayer, Noga Shiffman, Ido Lurie, Doron Gothelf, Idit Dekel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Online mental health services were previously found to be effective in many studies. However, this method was not generally used in Israel. By the end of 2019, the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic erupted, forcing mental health services to transition to online meetings to maintain the standard of care. In this cross-sectional study, we investigated the attitudes of adolescent patients toward this involuntary new mode of care. Methods: Forty-four adolescents (mean age 14.62 ± 2.12 years, 54.5% females) and 40 of their primary caregivers completed a battery of questionnaires that included the telemedicine satisfaction questionnaire, session evaluation questionnaire, working alliance inventory, and pediatric symptom checklist. Results: Both adolescents and their caregivers reported a reasonable experience with the online medium and a feeling that the meetings were overall powerful, helpful, and comfortable as demonstrated by medium to high scores on the telemedicine satisfaction questionnaire and session evaluation questionnaire questionnaires. A therapeutic alliance was generally maintained according to working alliance inventory scores. However, working alliance inventory scores were negatively correlated with higher levels of internalizing symptoms and parental stress. Discussion: Our findings point to the possibility that anxious/depressed adolescents will have greater difficulties re-establishing therapeutic alliance when transitioned from in-person to online meetings. This may be due to the introduction of an “invisible” third party to the therapeutic setting—the computer. Psychologists and psychiatrists should be aware of these difficulties and respond adequately to maintain the standard of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-730
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Telemedicine and Telecare
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • adolescent
  • eHealth
  • mental health
  • teleconsulting
  • telehealth
  • telemedicine
  • telepsychiatry

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