Rapid Scale-Up of Telehealth Services in Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Catherine Trinh, BA

McLean Hospital
Rapid Scale-Up of Telehealth Services in Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Scientific Abstract

Background: The rapid scale-up of telehealth services for substance use disorders (SUDs) during the COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique opportunity to understand patient experiences with this delivery method. This study examined patient perceptions of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic in an outpatient SUD treatment program offering individual therapy, group therapy, and individual medication management video visits.

Methods: Adults receiving outpatient treatment for SUDs (N=65) consented to an online survey. Of these participants, 58 completed or partially completed the survey.

Results: The majority of participants (86.2%) reported that they were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with the quality of telehealth care. Compared to participants who reported feeling ‘very satisfied’ with individual therapy (90.0%) and individual medication management (75.0%), those receiving group therapy reported the lowest ratings (57.8%). The top-rated reasons for liking telehealth included the ability to do it from home (89.7%) and not needing to spend time in transit (82.8%). The reasons for disliking telehealth were more diverse; the top-rated reasons included not connecting as well with other members in group therapy (27.6%), the ability for telehealth to be interrupted at home or work (25.9%), and liking the idea of leaving the house to go to the clinic (18.9%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that telehealth video visits were a satisfactory treatment modality for a majority of survey respondents who were receiving outpatient SUD care, especially those engaging in individual therapy.

Live Zoom Session – April 21st

research Areas


Catherine D. Trinh, BA, Dawn E. Sugarman, PhD, Alisa B. Busch, MD, R. Kathryn McHugh, PhD, Olivera J. Bogunovic, MD, Roger D. Weiss, MD, Shelly F. Greenfield, MD

Principal Investigator

Dawn E. Sugarman, PhD