Domestic violence is a significant public health problem and is correlated with serious mental and physical disorders. Victims' fear and isolation seriously limit access to psychiatric evaluation and treatment. Telemedicine provides a means to overcome these obstacles. This article describes a telemedicine program that provides psychiatric screening, evaluation, treatment, and referral for ongoing care to clients of a rural women's crisis center. Psychiatric evaluation and treatment were provided to a rural women's shelter program using telepsychiatry. The shelter program had difficulty accessing traditional mental health, service. All new clients entering the program were screened for mental health problems. Those requiring further evaluation received a physical examination with medical history and initial psychological interview on site, followed by psychiatric evaluation by videoconference. Appropriate treatment was initiated, and referral for ongoing psychiatric care through the local community mental health clinic was arranged. Of the 38 women referred for mental health services by clinic staff, 35 completed a psychiatric evaluation using telepsychiatry and 31 entered treatment. The most commonly identified disorders were anxiety and major affective disorders, followed by substance use disorders. Telepsychiatry can provide rapid crisis intervention and effective mental health services to victims of domestic violence in a rural setting.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics
- Health Information Management