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Telemed J E Health. 2005 Feb;11(1):102-5.

The clinical interview and the doctor-patient relationship in telemedicine.

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  • 1Department of Clinical, Morphological and Technological Science, U.C.O. of Clinical Psychiatry, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.


The doctor-patient relationship is one of the most complex interpersonal relationships, in that it involves individuals who are not on the same level, it has not been sought by both individuals, it is emotionally loaded and it requires close mutual co-operation towards a shared goal. A well-managed clinical interview lays the grounds for a good doctor-patient relationship which in turn leads to further advantages. In a classical ambulatory setting the doctor-patient relationship should take into account a number of context variables: physical environment, doctor's clothing and instrumental vs. affective behavior. The classical medical consultation takes place with the doctor and patient facing each other in the same room. Human contact, interaction and communication condition the course and treatment of the illness. This classical setting has been radically changed with the advent of videoconferencing. Video-communication reduces personal contact with the general doctor or specialist. Medical philosophy and the social sciences have often discussed the risk of alienating or "objectifying" the patient. The setting of a videoconferencing interview is completely different as interaction is not direct but occurs via a technological system that enables an unusual form of visual and auditory interaction that may be more or less realistic depending on the technology employed. The growing use of telemedicine and videoconferencing has led to new reflections on the doctor-patient relationship in non-conventional settings and warrants in-depth studies on the dynamics of this form of consultation so as to increase the patients' level of satisfaction in telemedicine. The next step will be to verify experimentally and with adequate tools what the demands of patients are in a videoconferencing setting.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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