Telemedicine in the correctional setting: A scoping review [2018]

The access healthcare services to inmates within correctional settings has generally been low and problematic due to specific nature of the prison setting. Telemedicine has been used as an alternative delivery mode. This study aimed to collate the current evidence related to the use of telemedicine to deliver health services within correctional settings.

A comprehensive search of seven databases – PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, Informit, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO and Scopus, for peer-reviewed publications was conducted in April, 2018.

Initial search identified 1147 articles. After review of the title and abstract, 36 articles were included in the final review. Of the included articles, 19 (53%) were published during the period of 2010-2018. Articles were predominantly from the USA (n = 23; 64 %), France and Australia. There were 23 descriptive studies (64%), five costing studies (14%) five experimental studies (14%), two mixed methods (6%) and one qualitative study (3%). The experimental studies were predominantly focused on mental health services (n = 4, 80%). The commonest telemedicine intervention used was synchronous videoconferencing (n = 21, 58%), while eight articles (22%) described asynchronous interventions. Telemedicine interventions were mainly used for mental health (n = 13), and ophthalmology (n = 4) disciplines.

In the right circumstances, telemedicine interventions within correctional settings seem to be a useful method in connecting inmates with essential health services.

Buddhika Senanayake, Sumudu I Wickramasinghe, Lars Eriksson, Anthony C Smith, Sisira Edirippulige

Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, Vol 24, Issue 10, 2018