Psychological Care Augmented by Telemedicine after a Polar Bear Encounter at an Arctic Research Station: A Case Report.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association


BACKGROUND: Psychologically stressful events can be particularly challenging in the wilderness or extreme environments due to a lack of immediate medical or psychological support. Telemedicine consultations may provide a means to supply medical providers in austere environments with expertise when confronted with these situations.

METHODS: In this study, we detail a case of psychological care imparted to residents at a remote, arctic research station after they encountered a polar bear. The health care provider at the camp was not a dedicated mental health professional but was able to deliver psychological care with assistance from a trained provider through use of telemedicine. We provide a brief overview of the evidence behind psychological first aid and incident support sessions for the treatment of stress injuries. We also review the evidence for telemedicine for psychological care in wilderness situations and describe its use in this scenario.

RESULTS: All station residents were able to resume regular arctic activities. Resident feedback was that the sessions were advantageous.

CONCLUSIONS: We anticipate the need for psychological care in austere situations to increase in the future, and further training in this field and the advancement of telemedicine consultation will be of benefit to wilderness providers.

Clinical Institute

Mental Health


Behavioral Health