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J Telemed Telecare. 2004;10(2):89-93.

Physician perceptions of the effect of telemedicine on rural retention and recruitment.

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Continuing Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


We conducted a postal survey of 140 family and community specialist physicians in a predominantly rural area which had received clinical telemedicine services and videoconferenced continuing medical education (CME) for two years. The questionnaire contained 46 items. The response rate was 47%. Most respondents (83%) reported having attended videoconferenced CME sessions and 45% reported having referred patients for teleconsultation. Physicians in more rural areas used these services more frequently. Ratings of two statements assessing the value of telemedicine in community support were significantly and positively correlated with the number of videoconferenced CME sessions attended and the number of telemedicine services used. In relation to their decision to stay in their community for at least one year, respondents rated telemedicine lower in importance than all but one of 17 other factors expected to influence physician recruitment and retention in rural communities. The influences on physician rural recruitment and retention are complex. However, telemedicine was used more frequently by the more rural physicians, and there was a relationship between higher usage and higher ratings of its value as a community support.

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