OBJECTIVE: This systematic review and meta-analysis compared the effectiveness of the delivery of care to patients with insomnia via telehealth to its delivery face-to-face.
METHODS: We searched Medline, Embase, and Cochrane CENTRAL from inception to 11 January 2023, and conducted a citation analysis on 13 June 2023. No language restrictions were imposed. We included randomised controlled trials. Where feasible, mean differences were calculated; we used a random effects model.
RESULTS: Four trials (239 patients) were included. There were no significant differences between telehealth and face-to-face for insomnia severity scores shortly post-intervention (MD 1.13, 95% CI -0.29-2.55) or at 3 months (mean difference (MD) 1.79, 95% CI -0.01-3.59). There were no differences in Short Form-36 physical and mental scores, Work and Social Adjustment scores, and sleep quality components. Depression scores did not differ post-intervention or at 3 months (MD 0.42, 95% CI -2.42-3.26). Functioning likewise did not differ post-intervention or at 3 months (standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.15, 95% CI -0.37-0.67, P = 0.58). Treatment satisfaction did not differ (one trial) or favoured the face-to-face group (one trial).
CONCLUSIONS: Telehealth may be a viable alternative to the face-to-face provision of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia to patients with insomnia. However, the volume of the existing evidence is limited, therefore additional trials are needed, evaluating cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia and other therapies for individuals for whom cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia is not effective, and conducted with a wider range of populations, providers and settings.