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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Oct;32(10):1804-1809. doi: 10.1111/jdv.14839. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

Use of medical photography among dermatologists: a nationwide online survey study.

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The Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Dermatology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.



Medical photography enhances patient care, medical education and research. Despite medical photography's widespread use, little is known about how dermatologists choose to implement photography in routine clinical practice, and how they approach issues of image storage, image security and patient consent.


To characterize dermatologists' medical photography habits and opinions.


A 32-item anonymous, multiple-choice SurveyMonkey questionnaire about medical photography practices was emailed to programme directors of the 117 United States (US) dermatology residency programmes between May and August 2015, with a request to forward to faculty and affiliated dermatologists. Only board-certified dermatologists practicing in the United States were eligible. The Institutional Review Board exempted our study from full review.


Our survey included 153 board-certified dermatologists, primarily representing the north-east (43.1%) and identifying as academic dermatologists (75.5%). Medical photography is prevalent: 61.8% report everyday use and 21.7% photograph every patient. Those reporting rare use (3.3%) were, on average, 20 years older. Dermatologists most commonly use photography to mark biopsy sites (87.5%), track disease (82.9%) and for education/teaching (72.4%). Nearly half (46%) use smartphone cameras. Emailing and texting photographs with patients or colleagues are common (69.1%). Most dermatologists (75.7%) always request patient consent for photographs. Only 23.7% adhere to a photography protocol and 73.9% desire more training opportunities.


Dermatologists value medical photography. While patterns of image acquisition, storage and consent are noted, a variety of methods and preferences exist. Clearer photography guidelines and increased educational resources are likely to improve image quality, exchangeability and confidentiality.


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