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Original Research

Mental health services for Nunavut children and youth: evaluating a telepsychiatry pilot project

Submitted: 21 May 2013
Revised: 29 August 2013
Accepted: 16 September 2013
Published: 14 May 2014

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Author(s) : Volpe T, Boydell KM, Pignatiello A.

Citation: Volpe T, Boydell KM, Pignatiello A.  Mental health services for Nunavut children and youth: evaluating a telepsychiatry pilot project. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2014; 14: 2673. Available: (Accessed 17 October 2017)


Introduction:  This study examines the delivery of psychiatric consultation services using videoconferencing technology to health and mental health workers in the Nunavut territory of Canada. The research provides insights into the TeleLink Mental Health Program and the delivery of professional-to-professional program consultations and continuing education seminars.
Methods:  Participant observation of 12 program consultations and four continuing education sessions was conducted. Individual interviews were conducted with the consulting psychiatrist and the lead program coordinator in Nunavut. As well, a focus group was held with Nunavut workers who participated in the televideo sessions.
Results:  The study found a number of factors that facilitated or hindered the process and content of a consultation-based telepsychiatry program and its effect on building capacity among frontline staff. Four main themes emerged related to the delivery of psychiatric services via televideo: gaining access, ensuring culturally appropriate services, providing relevant continuing education, and offering stable and confidential technology.
Conclusions:  Live interactive videoconferencing technology is an innovative and effective way of delivering specialized mental health services to professionals working in remote areas of Nunavut. Study results provide important strategies for expanding this approach to other jurisdictions in Nunavut and other Inuit regions.

Key words: consultation services, Inuit youth, mental health, Nunavut, telepsychiatry.

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