Mental Health Outcomes Among Patients Living in US Counties Lacking Broadband Access and Psychiatrists
Published in: JAMA Network Open, Volume, 6, No. 9, e2333781 (September 2023). doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.33781
Posted on rand.org Sep 20, 2023
The U.S. has a severe shortage of psychiatrists, causing individuals with mental health disorders to turn to emergency departments. Over the past decade, the federal government has emphasized a multipronged strategy to bolster the psychiatric workforce, including increasing psychiatry residency slots and incentivizing clinicians to practice in underserved areas. With the onset of COVID-19, telehealth provided a vehicle for expanding psychiatric care access. However, in 2019, 21.3 million US residents, including nearly a quarter of rural residents, still lacked broadband access, forcing them to use only telephone consultation or no telehealth services altogether. This analysis identifies the prevalence of counties without psychiatrists and broadband coverage, describes their sociodemographic characteristics, and quantifies their mental health outcomes.