Analysing the doctor_patient_computer relationship: the use of video data

Christopher Pearce, Kathryn Dwan, Michael Arnold, Christine Phillips


This paper examines the utility of using digital video data in observational studies involving doctors' and patients' use of computers in the consultation. Previous observational studies have used either direct observations or analogue videotapes. We describe a method currently in use in a study examining how doctors, patients and computers interact in the consultation. The study is set in general practice as this is the most clinically computerised section of the Australian healthcare system. Computers are now used for clinical functions in 90% of doctors' surgeries. With this rapid rise of computerisation, concerns have been expressed as to how the computer will affect the doctor_patient relationship. To assess how doctors, patients and computers interact, we have chosen an observational technique, namely to make digital videotapes of actual consultations. This analysis is based on a theoretical framework derived from dramaturgical analysis. Data are gathered from general practitioners who are high-level users of computers, as defined by their use of progress notes, as well as prescribing and test ordering. The subsequent digital data is then transferred onto computer and analysed according to our conceptual framework, making use of video-tagging software.


computers; consultation; physician_patient relationships; research methods; video-taping

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