Perceptions and use of videoconferencing in forensic mental health assessments: A survey of evaluators and legal personnel

Ashley B. Batastini, Madison Pike, Megan A. Thoen, Ashley C.T. Jones, Riley M. Davis, Esteisy Escalera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The use of videoconferencing (VC) to conduct forensic mental health assessments (FMHA) is increasing. Yet, little is known about its acceptability among clinicians or legal professionals. In Study 1 (N = 156), forensic evaluators were asked about their use of VC, reasons for its use, and opinions about the validity, usefulness, ethics, and legality of its use. An estimated one-third of evaluators have used VC in the past. Although evaluators overall expressed moderate concern over the ethics and legality of use, prior experience appeared to mitigate concerns. Younger practitioners were also more open to using VC. Reduced costs for courts was the most frequently endorsed benefit associated with VC, while restricted ability to administer psychological testing and potential technological problems were seen as the biggest disadvantages. In Study 2 (N = 27), attorneys and judges were surveyed about frequency with which they encounter VC for FMHA and their perceptions about the validity of those assessments. Findings indicated legal personnel expressed rather negative views without having much first-hand experience of VC, including concerns about establishing rapport and technical difficulties. These studies have implications for whether VC will be adopted more frequently in FMHA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-613
Number of pages21
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

Keywords

  • Videoconferencing
  • forensic mental health assessment
  • legal perceptions
  • provider perceptions

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