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Am J Med. 2015 Jan;128(1):82-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2014.08.035. Epub 2014 Sep 28.

Put a face to a name: a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of providing clinician photographs on inpatients' recall.

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School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Centre for Innovation Complex Care, Toronto, Ont, Canada. Electronic address:
Centre for Innovation Complex Care, Toronto, Ont, Canada; Division of General Internal Medicine, University Health Network, Toronto, Ont, Canada.
Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Ont, Canada; Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga, Ont, Canada.



Inpatients are visited by many health care providers daily; many cannot remember the name of even one member of their clinical care team. We provided inpatients with photographs of their clinicians and evaluated the impact on patient recall and communication with their health care providers.


A concealed allocation, randomized controlled trial ( NCT01658644) was conducted between September 2012 and April 2013 in the general internal medicine wards of a large teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada. Consenting patients were randomized into 3 groups: the control group received the current standard of care; the second group received handouts with the names and roles of their clinical care team; and the third group received handouts with the names, roles, and photographs of their clinical care team. Before discharge, patients completed a survey on their ability to recall their clinicians and were asked to rate the quality of communication with their care team.


Of the 186 patients (mean age 61 years, female = 44%) who completed surveys (control n = 60; names n = 65; photos n = 61), those receiving photos in the handout correctly identified significantly more clinicians by photograph (P = .001) and recalled more names (P = .002) than patients assigned to the control group. Regarding the perceived quality of communication, the results did not show differences between the control and intervention groups.


In this era of patient-centered care, providing patients with more information about who is directly involved with their health care appears to be warranted.


Clinical identification; Patient recall; Patient satisfaction; Patient-clinician communication; Photographic aids

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