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J Fam Pract. 2000 Oct;49(10):921-3.

Will patients use a computer to give a medical history?

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Louisiana State University Medical Center, New Orleans, USA.



A patient-entered computerized history, can be used as a means of medical data collection in a large inner city population. We evaluated whether a patient presenting to the Charity Hospital campus of the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans would use a computer to provide medical information.


To determine whether patients would self-administer a computerized medical history and find this an acceptable experience


A survey questionnaire was given to 100 patients selected from the emergency department walk-in clinic waiting area.


Charity Hospital emergency room walk-in clinic


One hundred patients older than 18 years were selected to give a random sample of the population using the Charity Hospital emergency room walk-in clinic for care. The patients received a questionnaire for rating their experience with the computer. Demographics were collected for all patients, including the 13 who declined participation. The main outcome was the patient's perception of the acceptability of using the computerized medical history. A second important outcome measure was patient refusal to participate in the study.


Our analysis of the acceptability ratings revealed adequate internal validity (Cronbach alpha=0.75). A single total score was created for these ratings. The participants' scores ranged from 2.0 to 4.0, with a mean of 3.3 (standard error of the mean=0.04). We observed an 83% positive experience in the participating population.


The patients were able to use the computer to enter their medical information. They responded favorably to the experience and appeared to be capable and willing to provide medical information through use of this technology.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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