Internal Medicine
Online ISSN : 1349-7235
Print ISSN : 0918-2918
ISSN-L : 0918-2918
Doctor-Patient Communication: A Comparison betweenTelemedicine Consultation and Face-to-Face Consultation
Xiao LiuYoshie SawadaTakako TakizawaHiroko SatoMahito SatoHironosuke SakamotoToshihiro UtsugiKunio SatoHiroyuki SuminoShinichi OkamuraTetsuo Sakamaki
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2007 Volume 46 Issue 5 Pages 227-232


Objective: The objective of this study was to compare doctor-patient communications in clinical consultations via telemedicine technology to doctor-patient communications in face-to-face clinical consultations.
Method: Five doctors who had been practicing internal medicine for 8 to 18 years, and twenty patients were enrolled in this study; neither doctors nor patients had previous experience of telemedicine. The patients received both a telemedicine consultation and a face-to-face consultation. Three measures - video observation, medical record volume, and participants' satisfaction - were used for the assessment.
Results: It was found that the time spent on the telemedicine consultation was substantially longer than the time spent on the face-to-face consultation. No statistically significant differences were found in the number of either closed or open-ended questions asked by doctors between both types of consultation. Empathy-utterances, praise-utterances, and facilitation-utterances were, however, seen less in the telemedicine consultations than in the face-to-face consultations. The volume of the medical records was statistically smaller in the telemedicine consultations than in the face-to-face consultations. Patients were satisfied with the telemedicine consultation, but doctors were dissatisfied with it and felt hampered by the communication barriers.
Conclusions: This study suggests that new training programs are needed for doctors to develop improved communication skills and the ability to express empathy in telemedicine consultations.

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© 2007 by The Japanese Society of Internal Medicine
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