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To assess inmate preferences for in-prison mental health services, outside psychiatric consultants, and telemedicine psychiatric consultation for 16 mental health services.
Structured interviews were conducted of the service modality preferences of 28 inmates who received psychiatric telemedicine consultations in NewYork State Department of Corrections facilities.
For five of the 16 mental health services assessed, a significantly larger proportion of inmates preferred delivery of mental services by their on-site mental health team to an outside psychiatric consultant, whether visiting or using telemedicine. For another eight services, inmate preferences were approximately equal. For three services (treatment progress, evaluation of childhood sexual abuse, and sexual concerns), inmates reported a trend toward preference for out-side consultation (visiting and telemedicine combined). For no service did inmates prefer telemedicine to a visiting consultant.
Although inmates prefer the use of on-site mental health professionals for many mental health services, some inmates prefer visiting or telemedicine consultants for the evaluation of safety and sexual issues. Because telemedicine is efficient and readily available, its role in these areas requires further evaluation.
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