Telehealth experiences in Canadian veterans: associations, strengths and barriers to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BMJ Military Health
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INTRODUCTION: Identifying barriers to care in veteran populations is critical, as veterans face increased social isolation, relationship strains and financial insecurities. For Canadian veterans experiencing barriers to accessing healthcare, telehealth may be a promising alternative with comparable effectiveness to in-person services; however, the potential benefits and limitations of telehealth require further examination to determine its long-term utility, and to inform health policy and planning. The goal of the present research was to identify predictors and barriers to telehealth usage in Canadian veterans in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: Data were drawn from baseline data of a longitudinal survey examining the psychological functioning of Canadian veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were 1144 Canadian veterans aged 18-93 years (M
RESULTS: Findings suggest that sociodemographic factors and previous telehealth use were significantly associated with telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Qualitative evidence highlighted both the benefits (eg, reducing barriers of access) and drawbacks (eg, not all services can be delivered) of telehealth services.
CONCLUSIONS: This paper provided a deeper understanding of Canadian veterans' experiences with accessing telehealth care during the COVID-19 pandemic. While for some, the use of telehealth mitigated perceived barriers (eg, safety concerns of leaving home), others felt that not all health services could be appropriately carried out through telehealth. Altogether, findings support the use of telehealth services in increasing care accessibility for Canadian veterans. Continued use of quality telehealth services may be a valuable form of care that extends the reach of healthcare professionals.