Mixing online and face-to-face therapy: how to benefit from blended care in mental healthcare

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Abstract

Blended care, a combination of online and face-to-face therapy, is increasingly being applied in mental health care to obtain optimal benefit from the advantages these two treatment modalities have. Promising results have been reported, but a variety in descriptions and ways of operationalizing blended care exists. Currently, what type of “blend” works for whom, and why, is unclear. Furthermore, a rationale for setting up blended care is often lacking. In this viewpoint paper, we describe postulates for blended care and provide an instrument (Fit for Blended Care) that aims to assist therapists and patients whether and how to set up blended care treatment. A review of the literature, two focus groups (n=5 and n=5), interviews with therapists (n=14), and interviews with clients (n=2) were conducted to develop postulates of eHealth and blended care and an instrument to assist therapists and clients in setting up optimal blended care. Important postulates for blended care are the notion that both treatment modalities should complement each other and that set up of blended treatment should be based on shared decision making between patient and therapist. The “Fit for Blended Care” instrument is presented which addresses the following relevant themes: possible barriers to receiving blended treatment such as the risk of crisis, issues in communication (at a distance), as well as possible facilitators such as social support. More research into the reasons why and for whom blended care works is needed. To benefit from blended care, face-to-face and online care should be combined in such way that the potentials of both treatment modalities are used optimally, depending on patient abilities, needs, and preferences. To facilitate the process of setting up a personalized blended treatment, the Fit for Blended Care instrument can be used. By applying this approach in research and practice, more insight into the working mechanisms and optimal (personal) “blends” of online and face-to-face therapy becomes within reach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e9-
Number of pages7
JournalJMIR mental health
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • METIS-315709
  • IR-99360

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