The Use of Virtual Care Interventions in the Field of Substance Abuse and Obstetrics

The Use of Virtual Care Interventions in the Field of Substance Abuse and Obstetrics

The use of virtual care interventions in the field of substance abuse and obstetrics has grown in recent years, with healthcare professionals recognizing the health and financial benefits that these care interventions offer. Six examples of virtual care interventions in substance abuse disorder and obstetrics have been identified. The relevant details of each example have been included in the attached spreadsheet. In the treatment of substance abuse disorder, virtual reality has been used for cessation treatment, apps have been used to provide education relating to treatment options, and telehealth has been explored as a means of intervention. The use of virtual telehealth to provide obstetric care to remote communities, apps to provide antenatal education, and virtual interactive monitoring for breastfeeding in the obstetrics specialty have all shown promise. Notes providing context or additional explanations relating to the interventions for each specialist area are detailed below.

Substance Abuse Disorder Virtual Case Studies

  • The DSM V recognizes ten different drug classes that are relative to substance abuse disorders. They are: alcohol; caffeine; cannabis; hallucinogens; inhalants; opioids; sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics; stimulants; tobacco; and other or unknown substances.
  • Exposure therapy is seen as a key tool in the treatment of substance abuse disorder. Exposure therapy is when the patient is “exposed to a stimulus in a safe environment so they can learn to control their reaction to it. It is commonly used to overcome phobias, but it also works well for addiction. The therapist might show the patient photos of people, or certain drug paraphernalia, or empty alcohol bottles, or anything else that might trigger a craving, then help the patient deal with that craving in a safe environment. The biggest limitation of exposure therapy is that cravings are often context dependent.” This has led to virtual reality being employed to create the context. Multiple studies were identified relating to the use of an immersive virtual environment for cue exposure in the treatment of substance abuse. Unfortunately, the majority of these studies are hidden behind paywalls and unable to be accessed.
  • Virtual reality in substance abuse treatment has been investigated in multiple studies over the last 25 years. The focus has predominantly been on tobacco and alcohol, although several studies have looked into methamphetamine and heroin.

Obstetrics Virtual Case Studies

  • Despite an extensive search of both Google Scholar and PubMed, there were few examples of studies in the public domain that involved virtual care in obstetrics. Given this, the cases located represent several jurisdictions. There were numerous studies reviewing the apps of obstetrics but few that looked beyond the technology and into outcomes.

General Notes

  • Some of the studies identified are hidden behind paywalls; however, we have used the study where there was sufficient context and information provided outside of the paywall. We have also used several Chrome extensions, including Core, Unpaywall, and Paywall Breaker, as well as a proxy site to access some of the articles.
  • Very few of the available studies addressed the health and financial outcomes directly. Where they have not been addressed in the study, a brief comment relating to common outcomes based on the volume of previous research in the area (the source is included below).

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