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Review Article

Use of telehealth for health care of Indigenous peoples with chronic conditions: a systematic review

Submitted: 14 September 2016
Revised: 19 April 2017
Accepted: 20 April 2017
Published: 20 September 2017

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Author(s) : Fraser S, Mackean T, Grant J, Hunter K, Towers K, Ivers R.

Sarah Fraser

Citation: Fraser S, Mackean T, Grant J, Hunter K, Towers K, Ivers R.  Use of telehealth for health care of Indigenous peoples with chronic conditions: a systematic review. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2017; 17: 4205. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=4205 (Accessed 19 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Telehealth may be a cost effective modality in healthcare delivery, but how well used or how appropriate it is for the care of Indigenous peoples is unclear. This review examines the evidence for telehealth in facilitating chronic conditions management with Indigenous peoples.
Methods:  Databases were systematically searched for qualitative or quantitative primary research studies that investigated telehealth use for chronic conditions management with Indigenous peoples worldwide. Evidence of effectiveness was by consumer health outcomes, evidence of acceptability was through consumer and user perception, and health service feasibility was evident by service impact. Data were assessed for quality and data extracted using pre-defined tools.
Results:  Articles (n=32) examined effectiveness (n=11), critiqued telehealth from the perspectives of the client (n=10) and healthcare professionals (n=8), and examined feasibility (n=12). Studies reported Indigenous people tend to be satisfied with telehealth, but are sceptical about its cultural safety. Evidence for the effectiveness of telehealth from a western biomedical perspective was found.
Conclusions:  Telehealth is promising; however, a lack of robust studies in this review make tangible conclusions difficult. A better overall understanding of telehealth use with Indigenous peoples, including delivery of culturally competent health care, true consultation and cultural competency of the professionals involved, would be helpful. Telehealth may have the potential to improve health care for Indigenous people, however the modality needs to be culturally competent and the care received must be culturally safe.

Key words: chronic condition, Indigenous health, systematic review, telehealth.

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