Computers in health care : analysis of outpatient attitudes

Date

1988

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Abstract

The impact of computer technology in the health care field has become more evident. Increasing amounts of medical information in combination with governmental demands for more efficient, cost effective health care, have all encouraged the use of, and investigation into, medical computer applications. Although computer technology promises innovative alternatives to many of the demands and problems facing the health care system, there will also be some unexpected problems as well. What are patients1 attitudes toward medical computer applications? What relationship exists between age, computer anxiety, computer experience, education, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and patient attitudes toward medical computer applications? If computer technology is to be successfully implemented within a health care institution, it is important that the attitudes of both health care providers and patients be assessed. The purpose of this study was to assess the attitudes of outpatients toward the use of computers in health care settings. Two null hypotheses were formulated for this investigation: 1. There is no significant difference in outpatient attitudes toward medical computer applications in general, or on the subscales of confidentiality of medical records, the doctor-patient relationship, liability for use of medical decision-making programs, and benefits to health education education, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. 2. There are no significant two-way interaction effects involving the factors age, computer anxiety, computer experience, education, gender, race, and socioeconomic status on outpatient attitudes toward medical computer applications, in general, or the subscales of confidentiality of medical records, the doctor-patient relationship, liability for use of medical decision-making programs, and benefits to health education. To test the hypotheses, an instrument consisting of two sections was developed by the investigator. On the first section of the instrument, 36 Likert-type items were used to operationalize outpatient attitudes toward medical computer applications. Outpatients were instructed to indicate the extent of their agreement on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the 36 items. Some of the items had the scales reversed so that higher ratings always occurred with more favorable attitudes. A score of three indicated a neutral attitude. The second section of the instrument collected the necessary patient background information. The instrument was pilot tested and revised accordingly. Final reliability of the 36 attitudinal items was found to be .93. Data were randomly collected from 272 outpatients visiting the clinics of two major health care institutions in a large metropolitan medical center. Descriptive statistics, analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of variance procedures were used to analyze the data. Overall patient attitudes and the four attitudinal subscales (i.e., confidentiality of medical records, the doctor-patient relationship, liability for decision-making programs, and benefits to health education) were examined by all possible two-way interactions of the seven independent variables. Higher order interactions were not examined due to the number of factors and the occurrence of empty cells. [...]

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Keywords

Medicine--Practice--Data processing--Psychological aspects

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