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A systematic review of the preferences of rural and remote youth for mental health service access: Telehealth versus face-to-face consultation

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 15:37 authored by Mseke, EP, Belinda JessupBelinda Jessup, Anthony Barnett

Introduction: Telehealth has become an increasingly popular method to deliver mental health services to rural and remote youth who are challenged by distance and service availability. However, it remains unclear whether rural and remote youth would prefer to access mental health services via telehealth or by attending services in person.

Objective: To systematically review the preferences of rural and remote youth for mental health service access via telehealth versus face-to-face consultation.

Design: Systematic review of published research papers cited in databases CINAHL, MEDLINE and PubMed databases between 2000 and 2021. Findings: From a total of 225 articles identified, four were found to meet inclusion criteria. Three studies reported rural and remote youth preferred to access mental health services face-to-face over telehealth. However, three studies also reported youth viewed telehealth as an important adjunct to in person attendance, especially in situations of large travel times.

Discussion: Although telehealth can facilitate mental health service access, rural and remote youth may prefer to see a mental health professional in person, with telehealth regarded as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, face-to-face consultation.

Conclusion: Whilst rural and remote youth may prefer to access mental health services in person rather than via telehealth, further well designed research is needed to better understand under what circumstances this preference holds true and why. Caution should be exercised in generalising this finding because of the few studies that met the inclusion criteria and different conditions under which youth made their choice to access mental health services.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Rural Health






School of Health Sciences


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2023 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of National Rural Health Alliance Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Mental health services; Rural and remote area health

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