Content » Vol 50, Issue 3

Review article

Effects of telehealth by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Renee Speyer, Deborah Denman, Sarah Wilkes-Gillan, Yu-Wei Chen, Hans Bogaardt, Jae-Hyun Kim, Dani-Ella Heckathorn, Reinie Cordier
College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University, 4811 Townsville, Australia. E-mail: r.speyer@online.nl

DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2297

Abstract

Objective: To describe telehealth interventions delivered by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas, and to compare the effects of telehealth interventions with standard face-to-face interventions.
Data sources: CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO and PubMed databases were searched. The content of relevant journals and published articles were also searched.
Study selection: Studies examining the effectiveness of allied health and nursing telehealth interventions for rural and remote populations were included in descriptive analyses. Studies comparing telehealth intervention with standard face-to-face interventions grouped by type of intervention approach were used to examine between-groups effect sizes.
Data extraction: Methodological quality of studies was rated using the QualSyst critical appraisal tool and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Evidence Hierarchy levels.
Data synthesis: After quality ratings, 43 studies were included. A majority of studies had strong methodological quality. The disciplines of psychology and nursing were represented most frequently, as were studies using a cognitive intervention approach. Meta-analysis results slightly favoured telehealth interventions compared with face-to-face interventions, but did not show significant differences. Interventions using a combined physical and cognitive approach appeared to be more effective.
Conclusion: Telehealth services may be as effective as face-to-face interventions, which is encouraging given the potential benefits of telehealth in rural and remote areas with regards to healthcare access and time and cost savings.

Lay Abstract

We summarised the existing literature on the effects of telehealth interventions delivered by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas. We compared the effects of telehealth with the effects of face-to-face interventions. In total, 43 articles were included. We found that telehealth services may be as effective as face-to-face interventions. This is a positive finding, given the potential benefits of telehealth in rural and remote areas with regards to healthcare access and time and cost savings.

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