Annotated bibliography: Telephone counselling

Annotated bibliography

Bassilios, B., Pirkis, J., King, K., Fletcher, J., Blashki, G., & Burgess, P. (2014). Evaluation of an Australian primary care telephone cognitive behavioural therapy pilot. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 20(1), 62.

This paper discusses a telephone-based cognitive behavioural therapy pilot project which was trialed from July 2008 to June 2010, using an Australian Government-funded primary mental health care program. Uptake, sociodemographic and clinical profile of consumers, precise nature of services delivered, and consumer outcome were all assessed using a web-based minimum datasets. Project officers and mental health professionals were interviewed to obtain details about the implementation of the pilot. In total, 548 general practitioners referred 908 consumers, who received 6607 sessions (33% via telephone) by 180 mental health professionals. Clients were mostly females with an average age of 37 years and had a diagnosis of depressive and/or anxiety disorders. Both telephone and face-to-face sessions of 60 minutes in length were run, delivering behavioural and cognitive therapy, often at no cost to clients. Several issues were identified by project officers and mental health professionals, during implementation. Face-to-face treatment is usually preferred by providers and clients, but having the option of telephone counselling is valued, especially for clients who would not otherwise access psychological services. Evidence from the positive client outcomes supports the practice of offering a choice of face-to-face or telephone counseling or a combination of the two. A limitation of this study was the absence of a non-treatment control group.

Best, D., Hall, K., Guthrie, A., Abbatangelo, M., Hunter, B., & Lubman, D. (2015). Development and implementation of a structured intervention for alcohol use disorders for telephone helpline services. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 33(1), 118.

This article details a pilot study of a six-session intervention for harmful alcohol use via a 24-hour alcohol and other drug (AOD) helpline. It aimed to evaluate the viability of telephone-delivered intervention for AOD treatment. The intervention included practice features from motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioural therapy, and node-link mapping. It was evaluated using a case file audit (n=30) and a structured telephone interview a month after the final session (n=22). Psychological distress in the participants was significantly reduced and average scores on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) dropped by more than 50%. The results indicate that telephone intervention offers effective and efficient treatment for individuals with alcohol use disorders who are unable or unwilling to access face-to-face treatment.

Constant, H. M. R. M., Figueiró, L. R., Tatay, C. M., Signor, L., & Fernandes, S. (2016). Alcohol User Profile after a Brief Motivational Intervention in Telephone Follow-up: Evidence Based on Coping Strategies. Journal of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, 4 (254), 2.

The benefits of intervention in alcohol abuse varies among individuals in particular with relapse. This research studied alcohol cessation in 120 people over a 6 month period and evaluated the effect of brief motivational interviewing. The study surveyed 120 participants over the phone using the Coping Behaviours Inventory as a measure. The study included a control group of 50 participants who did not receive any intervention. Almost all those who received telephone counselling had quit drinking alcohol at the 6 month period, whereas most of those in the control group did not stop drinking alcohol. The study suggests this may be due to motivation to change and social support. A longer term study was recommended.

Gates, P. (2015). The effectiveness of helplines for the treatment of alcohol and illicit substance use. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 21(1), 18.

While tobacco helplines or quitlines are thought to be effective, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of helplines which treat other substance use. This study reviewed literature on illicit drug or alcohol (IDA) helplines to address this gap. Five databases were searched for literature published in English, which involved the use of a telephone counselling helpline for the treatment of illicit drug or alcohol use. The author excluded review papers, opinion pieces, letters or editorials, case studies, published abstracts and posters. The initial search identified 2178 articles which were reduced to 36 articles after removing duplicates and those meeting the exclusion criteria. Descriptive information was provided in 29 articles about 19 different IDA helplines internationally. Call rates in these services varied from 3.7 to over 23,000 calls per month. Evaluative information was found in nine articles covering eight different IDA helplines, four articles described an evaluation of treatment outcomes against a control group and five articles contained details on treatment satisfaction or service utilisation. The study indicates that there is evidence that these services are effective. The studies in the review had poor consistency in their measures with few using randomized control groups. Limitations included that the articles were not evaluated by two independent researchers and the authors of the articles were not contacted for further information.

Haregu, T. N., Chimeddamba, O., & Islam, M. R. (2015). Effectiveness of Telephone-Based Therapy in the Management of Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. SM Journal of Depression Research and Treatment, 1(2), 1006.

This review was conducted as a gap was identified in systematic reviews identifying the effectiveness of telephone-based therapy for the treatment of depression. A total of nine papers were identified as meeting the selection criteria and were reviewed by the authors. It concluded that telephone counselling delivered by experienced and trained therapists is effective in treating depression and it suggested it is more effective than face-to-face but further studies are recommended.

Heinemans, N., Toftgård, M., Damström-Thakker, K., & Galanti, M. R. (2014). An evaluation of long-term changes in alcohol use and alcohol problems among clients of the Swedish National Alcohol Helpline. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 9(1), 22.

This study evaluated alcohol reduction and AUDIT scores in participants utilising a standalone telephone counselling service in the form of an alcohol hotline, employing trained counsellors. The data was collected by telephone survey from 191 participants at the first call and 12 months later. Change in AUDIT score was used as the primary outcome and the number of counselling sessions defined the exposure intensity. Most participants reduced their alcohol intake and AUDIT score in the year of the study and 50% reported better mental health. These figures were supported by other studies. They also cited a study which indicated that telephone counselling sessions with one face-to-face consultation had significantly better outcomes than face-to-face consultations alone.

Le Gresley, H., Darling, C., & Reddy, P. (2013). New South Wales rural and remote communities’ perception of mental health telephone support services. In 12th National Rural Health Conference, http://nrha. org. au/12nrhc/wpcontent/uploads/2013/06/Le-Gresley-Helen_ppr. pdf.

This study examined perceived barriers to telephone counseling in rural communities. The data was collected using surveys and there were 213 participants. Most of the participants felt it was a cost-cutting option which was not as effective as face-to-face counselling. Cost of accessing the services using a mobile phone was also quoted as being a barrier, as was being placed on hold or not getting through and having to repeat their story to different therapists. Poor marketing of the different services led to confusion on which was the best service to access.

Tse, S., Campbell, L., Rossen, F., Wang, C. W., Jull, A., Yan, E., & Jackson, A. (2013). Face-to-face and telephone counseling for problem gambling: A pragmatic multisite randomized study. Research on Social Work Practice, 23(1), 57.

This was a randomised study which aimed to compare the effectiveness of telephone and face-to-face counselling in treating problematic gambling. Psychological interventions were provided to 92 participants either by telephone or face-to-face over a 3 month period. Data was collected using surveys and questionnaires and significant changes were found over time in hours and money spent gambling and gambling beliefs. The study indicated that both face-to face and telephone counselling were equally effective in reducing problematic gambling. Limitations included the lack of a control group and the high rate of attrition of the participants, with only 27 completing the program.

Van Horn, D. H. A., Drapkin, M., Lynch, K. G., Rennert, L., Goodman, J. D., Thomas, T., … McKay, J. R. (2015). Treatment choices and subsequent attendance by substance-dependent patients who disengage from intensive outpatient treatment. Addiction Research and Theory, 23(5), 391.

This study examined continual engagement rates in alternative treatment options in patients who had previously disengaged from intensive outpatient programs (IOP). Alternatives included return to IOP, individual psychotherapy, telephone counselling, medication management and no treatment. Of the 96 people contacted 6 chose telephone counselling and there were no differences seen in engagement with any of the treatment options. The limitations included the very small sample size and that participants were contacted by a researcher with whom they had had no previous engagement and asked to select a treatment option.

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