Facility and state-level factors associated with telemental health (TMH) adoption among mental health facilities in the United States

Xiaohui Zhao, Kim E. Innes, Sandipan Bhattacharjee, Nilanjana Dwibedi, Traci M. LeMasters, Usha Sambamoorthi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Telemental health (TMH) is a promising approach to increase access to mental healthcare. This study examined the TMH adoption rates and associations with facility- and state-level factors among US mental health (MH) facilities. Methods: This retrospective, cross-sectional study used linked data for 2016 from the National Mental Health Services Survey (N = 11,833), Area Health Resources File, and national reports for broadband access and telehealth policies. The associations of facility and state-level characteristics with TMH adoption were examined with multi-level logistic regressions. Results: Overall, 25.9% had used TMH. Having veteran affiliation [Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 18.53, 95% Confidence Interval (95%CI): 10.66–32.21] and greater Information Technology (IT) capacity [AOR(95%CI): 2.89(2.10–3.98)] were the strongest correlates of TMH adoption. Other facility characteristics associated with higher likelihood of TMH adoption were: public ownership, high patient volumes, having comprehensive MH treatments or Quality Improvement practices, having private or non-Medicaid public payers, and treating elderly patients (AORs: 1.16–2.41). TMH adoption was less likely among facilities treating more African Americans or patients with substance abuse disorders. TMH adoption varied substantially across states, with adoption more likely in states issuing special telehealth licences and those with more rural counties. Discussion: One in four MH facilities adopted TMH in 2016. TMH adoption varied by multiple facility- and state-level factors. Our findings suggest that: legal/regulatory burden and lower facility IT capacity may discourage TMH adoption; significant racial disparities exist in TMH adoption; and there is a need to increase TMH use for substance abuse disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of telemedicine and telecare
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • mental health facilities
  • National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS)
  • rurality
  • telehealth licence
  • Telemental health (TMH)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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