Original Research

Digital psychiatry in Nigeria: A scoping review

Justus U. Onu, Tonia C. Onyeka
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 30 | a2115 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v30i0.2115 | © 2024 Justus U. Onu, Tonia C. Onyeka | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 May 2023 | Published: 21 March 2024

About the author(s)

Justus U. Onu, Department of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria; and Center for Translation and Implementation Research (CTAIR), Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Tonia C. Onyeka, Center for Translation and Implementation Research (CTAIR), Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; and Department of Anaesthesia, Pain and Palliative Care Unit, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria


Background: Mental healthcare workforce shortage in Nigeria poses a major obstacle to mental health services scale-up. Digital psychiatry may provide a veritable platform to bridge treatment gaps.

Aim: To provide an overview of quantity and range of peer-reviewed publications on digital psychiatry in Nigeria.

Setting: A comprehensive literature search encompassed all original, peer-reviewed research articles on digital psychiatry in Nigeria. PubMed, Google Scholar, and a direct exploration of relevant journal article reference lists were utilised. Inclusion criteria covered peer-reviewed original articles conducted in Nigeria between January 2013 and January 2023, regardless of quality. Exclusions comprised case reports, reviews, dissertations, and abstracts.

Methods: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines were adhered to, while methodological framework of Arksey and O’Malley was used to describe the review.

Results: Fourteen studies meeting inclusion criteria exhibited two primary research areas: implementation and intervention. Most studies focused on intervention strategies, showcasing efficacy of digital devices in enhancing outcomes in depression and clinic appointments. Implementation studies indicated favorable acceptance by both clients and healthcare practitioners.

Conclusion: Digital technology seems acceptable to Nigerian patients and clinicians. Policies to operationalise provision of digital healthcare services will have positive impact in addressing unmet mental health needs. Finally, the quality of the evidence from majority of studies has to be enhanced, and additional studies are required to uncover gaps in some regions of the country.

Contribution: This research demonstrates that, despite some drawbacks, digital methods of providing mental healthcare are practical in Nigeria.


digital psychiatry; digital healthcare; telemedicine; mental health services; Nigeria.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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