A Systematic Review of Research Studies Examining Telehealth Privacy and Security Practices Used By Healthcare Providers


  • Valerie J.M. Watzlaf University of Pittsburgh
  • Leming Zhou University of Pittsburgh
  • Dilhari R. DeAlmeida University of Pittsburgh
  • Linda M. Hartman University of Pittsburgh




The objective of this systematic review was to systematically review papers in the United States that examine current practices in privacy and security when telehealth technologies are used by healthcare providers. A literature search was conducted using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols (PRISMA-P). PubMed, CINAHL and INSPEC from 2003 – 2016 were searched and returned 25,404 papers (after duplications were removed). Inclusion and exclusion criteria were strictly followed to examine title, abstract, and full text for 21 published papers which reported on privacy and security practices used by healthcare providers using telehealth.  Data on confidentiality, integrity, privacy, informed consent, access control, availability, retention, encryption, and authentication were all searched and retrieved from the papers examined. Papers were selected by two independent reviewers, first per inclusion/exclusion criteria and, where there was disagreement, a third reviewer was consulted. The percentage of agreement and Cohen’s kappa was 99.04% and 0.7331 respectively. The papers reviewed ranged from 2004 to 2016 and included several types of telehealth specialties. Sixty-seven percent were policy type studies, and 14 percent were survey/interview studies. There were no randomized controlled trials. Based upon the results, we conclude that it is necessary to have more studies with specific information about the use of privacy and security practices when using telehealth technologies as well as studies that examine patient and provider preferences on how data is kept private and secure during and after telehealth sessions.

Keywords: Computer security, Health personnel, Privacy, Systematic review, Telehealth



Author Biographies

Valerie J.M. Watzlaf, University of Pittsburgh

Associate Professor

Leming Zhou, University of Pittsburgh

Assistant Professor

Dilhari R. DeAlmeida, University of Pittsburgh

Assistant Professor

Linda M. Hartman, University of Pittsburgh

Health Science Librarian


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How to Cite

Watzlaf, V. J., Zhou, L., DeAlmeida, D. R., & Hartman, L. M. (2017). A Systematic Review of Research Studies Examining Telehealth Privacy and Security Practices Used By Healthcare Providers. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 9(2), 39–58. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijt.2017.6231



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