Objective: With the increase in recent number of mental health problems including PTSD, depression and substance abuse in veteran population, there is an increased need for effective mental health services. According to the US department of Veteran Affairs, as a veteran who has been honorably discharged, he or she can have veteran medical insurance for free lifelong, which allows them to go to any VA hospitals for free for any services that are provided there, including telemedicine. The aim of this study was to assess if student veterans are willing to utilize telemedicine for behavioral health services, and if not, what were the factors that influenced their decisions and opinions about telemedicine.
Method & Participants: Online anonymous survey which was distributed randomly to student veterans. Quantitative data was collected and analyzed by Microsoft Excel. Subjects were selected based on inclusion and exclusion criteria stated in the study. Subjects were asked to complete the survey which lasted approximately 5 mins and were also given the opportunity to watch a video which educated them about telemedicine.
Results: The survey was sent to 150 student veterans and was completed by 74 students (n=74). Age, gender, and ethnicity showed to play an important role in student veterans' willingness in using telehealth. More than 50% of subjects claimed that they were not sure if the service was covered under their current insurance. In total, 80% of the respondents who never used telemedicine showed interest in utilizing telehealth whether they had been aware of it or not. In terms of future interest and telehealth promotion, 75% student veterans responded "definitely will" to not only the question on using telehealth again, but also to that of recommending telehealth to their friends and family.
Conclusion: This study found that making student veterans aware of telehealth services yielded a strong correlation in the willingness to use the service in the future. Subjects also reported a high degree of satisfaction with telemedicine and a willingness to participate in telemedicine clinical care in the future. This survey also provided knowledge for the participants as those who were not aware were educated via a video. Questions presented in the survey after the video revealed a positive feedback in the willingness to use telehealth in the future.