Virtual consultations in the context of family violence: Understanding the ethical issues and needs
Organisation: University of Otago
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an unprecedented expansion of telehealth as a substitute for in-person care. At the same time, pandemic restrictions have contributed to an increase in family and intimate partner violence. Both telephone and video consultations may offer benefits to patients facing family violence as alternative communication options, but they also come with specific challenges related to privacy, accessibility and equity. For example, it may be difficult for healthcare providers to assess whether patients have privacy from an abuser during remote consultations. This study will examine the benefits and challenges of telehealth use in the context of family violence through qualitative research methods. To this end, we will employ a qualitative research protocol to conduct semi-structured interviews with users who have experience with either telephone or video consultations. This will include a group of ten to 15 clients or survivors of family violence who have used teleconsultations in a patient role and a group of ten to 15 local service providers who have conducted remote consultations with their clients during the Covid-19 pandemic or afterwards. Although a thorough literature review will inform the interview guide, it will mainly allow participants to tell their story and to discuss the ethical issues they deem important. The ultimate goal is to inform and develop an ethical framework for remote consultations that takes into account the specific needs of different patient groups, who may otherwise fall through the cracks because they tend to be excluded from telehealth research for various reasons.
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