Exam Room Computer Use May Impact How Patients View Physicians

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Seventy-two percent of patients with advanced cancer prefer face-to-face communication
Seventy-two percent of patients with advanced cancer prefer face-to-face communication

HealthDay News — Patients perceive that physicians who communicate face-to-face without a computer have better compassion, communication skills, and professionalism, according to a study being presented at the 2017 Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Symposium, being held October 27 to 28 in San Diego.

Ali Haider, MD, from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial at an outpatient supportive care center. A total of 120 adults with advanced cancer were randomized to watch two standardized three-minute video vignettes depicting a routine clinical encounter between a patient and a physician; in one video the physician communicated face-to-face, while in the other, the physician used the examination room computer during the conversation. Patients completed validated questionnaires after viewing each video. 

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The researchers found that after watching the first video, patients rated compassion scores, communication skills, and professionalism better for the face-to-face clinical encounter. A significant period and sequence effect was found favoring the second video on compassion scores after crossover analysis. Seventy-two percent of patients preferred face-to-face communication after watching the second video.

"We know that having a good rapport with patients can be extremely beneficial for their health," Haider said in a statement. "Patients with advanced disease need the cues that come with direct interaction to help them along with their care."

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