January 10, 2023
A new study conducted by researchers from the RAND Corporation, published in JAMA Health Forum, has found that in 2020, there was a more than 50% decline in in-person mental healthcare utilization among patients, and that this decline was offset by telehealth service utilization.
The study looked at data from more than 5 million adults covered by commercial health insurance from January 5, 2020 to December 21, 2020. The researchers examined data measuring county-level mental healthcare utilization rates for all 50 states in the U.S. for adults 18 and older. The analysis focused on five diagnostic categories: major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, adjustment disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study's corresponding author, Christopher M. Whaley, PhD, was quoted on fiercehealthcare.com saying, "Telehealth for behavioral health care has not declined in use over the course of the pandemic . . . This is in contrast to many other services, which saw an increase in telehealth care in the first few months of the pandemic, but then a rebound of in-person care. For behavioral health, telehealth has been sticky and use has remained constant."