The Use of Asynchronous Virtual Mental Health (AVMH) Technologies in Rural and Remote Communities


Executive Summary

In this Issue Note, we describe some of the asynchronous virtual mental health (AVMH) services and platforms implemented for adults living in remote or rural locations in Canada and abroad. We summarize evidence from a rapid review on the scope, types, reported effectiveness and uptake, and patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) of these asynchronous modalities. Evidence-informed considerations for practice and policy in Canada are drawn primarily from the published literature with additional insights offered by key informants. We conclude with what Canada can learn from the evidence.​

AVMH services are provided in ways that do not rely on “real-time” interactions with providers. Instead, they are offered through smartphone applications “apps” or web-based platforms. AVMH options have gained interest amongst health care providers and health system researchers, particularly in rural and remote areas where people often struggle with a lack of timely access to human and medical resources. ​

A wide variety of AVMH services and virtual platforms have been studied, including applications that offer messaging, peer-support, and self-education. Outcomes in terms of effectiveness and uptake have been measured by clients’ word counts, the frequency individuals have been able to reach out and ask questions, and the frequency of communication between clients and health care teams. PROMs include reported usage, adherence to treatment, and symptom improvement.

  • Published: March 24, 2023

With funding from the Government of Canada

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