Effects of COVID-19 on Patients in Adult Ambulatory Psychiatry: Using Patient-Rated Outcome Measures and Telemedicine


Introduction: To examine the effects of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on patients in an academic psychiatric ambulatory clinic, data from a measurement-based care (MBC) system were analyzed to evaluate impacts on psychiatric functioning in patients using telemedicine. Psychiatric functioning was evaluated for psychological distress (brief adjustment scale [BASE]-6), depression (patient health questionnaire [PHQ]-9), and anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder [GAD]-7), including initial alcohol (U.S. alcohol use disorders identification test) and substance use (drug abuse screening test-10) screening. Methods: This observational study included MBC data collected from November 2019 to March 2021. Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) were examined to determine changes in symptomatology over the course of treatment, as well as symptom changes resulting from the pandemic. Patients were included in analyses if they completed at least one PROM in the MBC system. Results: A total of 2,145 patients actively participated in the MBC system completing at least one PROM, with engagement ranging from 35.07% to 83.50% depending on demographic factors, where completion rates were significantly different for age, payor status, and diagnostic group. Average baseline scores for new patients varied for the GAD-7, PHQ-9, and BASE-6. Within-person improvements in mental health before and after the pandemic were statistically significant for anxiety, depression, and psychological adjustment. Discussion: MBC is a helpful tool in determining treatment progress for patients engaging in telemedicine. This study showed that patients who engaged in psychiatric services incorporating PROMs had improvements in mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional research is needed exploring whether PROMs might serve as a protective or facilitative factor for those with mental illness during a crisis when in-person visits are not possible.



Health Care Sciences & Services, COVID-19, telepsychiatry, behavioral health, telemedicine, e-Health, PSYCHOTHERAPY, DISORDER, IMPACT, Medical Informatics, 0807 Library and Information Studies, 0903 Biomedical Engineering, 1117 Public Health and Health Services