A pilot study of a telehealth intervention for persons with spinal cord dysfunction.
Methods: Single-blind randomized controlled trial of 6 months' duration.
Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a novel telehealth intervention, 'CareCall', on reducing pressure ulcers and depression and enhancing the use of appropriate health care.
Methods: General community, Massachusetts and Connecticut, United States Methods: 'CareCall' is an automated, interactive voice response system that combines patient education, cognitive behavioral interventions, screening and referrals, with alerts to a nurse telerehabilitation coordinator for direct non-emergent phone follow up. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of 142 persons with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury using a wheelchair >6 h per day. The intervention group received CareCall (n=71) The control group received usual care (n=71). The main outcome measures were: The pressure ulcer scale for healing tool, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 depression scale, Cornell Services Index and Craig Hospital Inventory of Environmental Factors-Short Form Question 5.
Results: CareCall achieved a reduction in presence of pressure ulcers at 6 months in women (P<0.0001). Among those with baseline depression, CareCall reduced 6-month severity of depression, adjusting for age and gender (P<0.047). CareCall did not have a significant impact on health-care utilization (OR=1.8, P=0.07), but did significantly improve participants' report of health-care availability (OR=2.03, P<0.04).
Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate the efficacy of a largely automated telehealth intervention for adults with spinal cord dysfunction. Future research needs to replicate this study in a larger, multisite trial.