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The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and still has, the risk to have an enormous impact on how people socially interact with each other due to possible lockdowns, quarantine and isolation measures to reduce infection rates. Consequently, these measures hold great implications for those medical disciplines that inherently rely on social interaction, such as psychiatry. In their article, ‘Can you hear me?’— Communication, Relationship and Ethics in Video-based Telepsychiatric Consultations’, Frittgen and Haltaufderheide1 show that videoconferencing holds potential to ensure that this social interaction is guaranteed, be it in a technology mediated manner. In this sense, videoconferencing needs to be conceived as a pharmakon, a medicine, having both curative and toxifying elements, depending on why and how it is used.2 For example, videoconferencing allows continuity of care when physical proximity is impossible (curative element). At the same time, it allows the patient to interrupt the therapy by muting the therapist or ending the call at his/her convenience (toxic element). To guarantee the curative side of videoconferencing, and as such avoid the toxifying elements, an ethical prescription needs to be developed and used. Despite the fact that videoconferencing seems to have a similar clinical effectiveness as face-to-face interaction, Frittgen and Haltaufderheide rightly point out that there are ethical impacts to be addressed to avoid …
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.