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J R Coll Gen Pract. 1986 May;36(286):198-202.

An interactive computerized protocol for the management of hypertension: effects on the general practitioner's clinical behaviour.


This paper reports an experimental study of general practitioners' use of an interactive computerized protocol for the management of hypertension, focussing particularly on the protocol's effects on doctors' clinical behaviour. Prior to its computerization a paper-based version of the protocol was used enabling a comparison of the alternative forms. Doctors' delivery of care was assessed from video recordings of 89 consultations and from the records made during these consultations. Comparisons were made of consultations conducted under control and experimental conditions. Use of paper and computer protocols resulted in significant improvements in the doctors' delivery of care, in terms of the range of verbal and physical examinations conducted and recorded. The protocol's effects were most marked when the computerized version was used. However, use of the computer protocol resulted in the recording of information on the non-occurrence of certain events which had not been explicitly elicited during the verbal examination; features of the design which were intended to encourage adherence to the protocol may have been inappropriate to the realities of a general practice consultation. The findings provide some useful insights for the design of future computerized protocols for the management of chronic conditions.

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