Effects of telehealth by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Renee Speyer, Deborah Denman, Sarah Wilkes-Gillan, Yu-Wei Chen, Hans Bogaardt, Jae-Hyun Kim, Dani-Ella Heckathorn, Reinie Cordier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To describe telehealth interventions delivered by allied health professionals and nurses in rural and remote areas and compare the effects of telehealth interventions with standard face-to-face interventions.
Data sources: CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO and PubMed were searched. Content of relevant journals and published articles were also searched.
Study selection: Studies examining the effectiveness of allied health and nursing telehealth interventions for rural and remote populations were included in descriptive analyses. Studies comparing telehealth intervention with standard face-to-face interventions were used to examine between-groups effect sizes.
Data extraction: Methodological quality of studies was rated using the QualSyst critical appraisal tool and the NHMRC Evidence Hierarchy levels.
Data synthesis: After quality ratings, 43 studies were included. A majority of studies had strong methodological quality. Disciplines of psychology and nursing were most frequently represented, as were studies using a cognitive intervention approach.
Meta-analysis results slightly favoured telehealth interventions compared with face-to-face interventions. Interventions using a combined physical and cognitive approached were most effective. Conclusion: Telehealth services are at least as effective as face-to-face interventions, which is positive given the potential benefits of telehealth in rural and remote areas with regards to healthcare access and time and cost savings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-235
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date19 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Foundation of Rehabilitation Information. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • telemedicine
  • video conferencing
  • delivery of healthcare
  • treatment outcome
  • outcome assessment
  • rural population
  • rural health
  • remote consultation


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