Surgeons’ interactions with and attitudes toward E-patients: Questionnaire study in Germany and Oman

Ken Masters*, Teresa Loda, Jonas Johannink, Rashid Al-Abri, Anne Herrmann-Werner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Doctors’ interactions with and attitudes toward e-patients have an overall impact on health care delivery. Objective: This study aimed to gauge surgeons’ interactions with e-patients, their attitudes toward those e-patient activities, the possible impact on the delivery of health care, and the reasons behind those activities and attitudes. Methods: We created a paper-based and electronic survey form based on pertinent variables identified in the literature, and from March 2018 to July 2018 we surveyed 49 surgeons in Germany and 59 surgeons in Oman, asking them about their interactions with and attitudes toward e-patients. Data were stored in Microsoft Excel and SPSS, and descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations, and chi-square tests were performed on the data. Results: Of our sample, 71% (35/49) of the German surgeons and 56% (33/59) of the Omani surgeons communicated electronically with their patients. Although the German surgeons spent a greater percentage of Internet usage time on work-related activities (χ2 18=32.5; P=.02) than the Omani surgeons, there were many similarities in their activities. An outstanding difference was that the German surgeons used email with their patients more than the Omani surgeons (χ2 1=9.0; P=.003), and the Omani surgeons used social media, specifically WhatsApp, more than the German surgeons (χ2 1=18.6; P<.001). Overall, the surgeons were equally positive about the most common e-patient activities such as bringing material from the internet to the consultation (mean 4.11, SD 1.6), although the German surgeons (mean 3.43, SD 1.9) were more concerned (P=.001) than the Omani surgeons (mean 2.32, SD 1.3) about the potential loss of control and time consumption (German: mean 5.10, SD 1.4 and Omani: mean 3.92, SD 1.6; P<.001). Conclusions: The interactions show a high degree of engagement with e-patients. The differences between the German and the Omani surgeons in the preferred methods of communication are possibly closely linked to cultural differences and recent historical events. These differences may, moreover, indicate e-patients’ desired method of electronic communication to include social media. The low impact of surgeons’ attitudes on the activities may also result from a normalization of many e-patient activities, irrespective of the doctors’ attitudes and influences.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14646
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Volume22
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Attitude
  • Communication
  • Digital health
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • E-patient
  • E-physician
  • Empowerment
  • Internet
  • Internet-informed patient
  • Physician
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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