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New study to investigate the use of remote consultations for anxiety and depression

10 January 2023

A new University of Bristol led study will investigate the benefits and challenges of remote consultations for patients with anxiety and depression in primary care.

Remote consultations are appointments that take place over the phone, by video or text messaging. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a big increase in remote consultations in primary care.

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) funded study will ask GPs, mental health nurses and patients about their views and experiences of remote consulting for anxiety and depression.

The information gathered will inform how best to use remote consultations for these conditions in the future.

The researchers hope to interview 40 patients and health professionals and will report on the findings later in 2023.

Dr Charlotte Archer, Senior Research Associate in Primary Care Mental Health at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, University of Bristol, said: “While there is research on the use of remote consultations generally, not much is known about how they work for people with common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. This is important because 40% of primary care consultations focus on mental health, and this figure has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During remote consultations, distressing issue may be discussed and patients may find it difficult to have these conversations over the phone. GPs and nurses may miss important cues, for example, in facial expression or body language. Conversely, anxiety and depression may make it more difficult for some patients to attend appointments in person and therefore remote consultations may be preferable.

“Understanding the benefits and challenges of remote consultations for mental health will inform how best, and when, this method of consulting is used in primary care.”

Health professionals and patients from GP practices across the West of England are now being invited to take part.

For more information, email

This study is funded by the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (project reference 598). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Further information

About the Centre for Academic Primary Care

The Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC) at the University of Bristol is a leading centre for primary care research in the UK, one of nine forming the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. It sits within Bristol Medical School, an internationally recognised centre of excellence for population health research and teaching.

Follow on Twitter: @capcbristol

About the NIHR

The mission of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

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