Research Article

Lifestyle assessment: applying microcomputers in family practice.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 19 January 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:212
  1. H A Skinner,
  2. B A Allen,
  3. M C McIntosh,
  4. W H Palmer


    A randomised trial of assessment by computer was conducted with 180 patients in a family practice clinic. Histories of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use were obtained by computer (n = 60), interview (n = 60), or self completed questionnaire (n = 60). The results of previous research suggest that some patients may provide more accurate information about "sensitive" problems to a computer. No significant differences, however, in levels of consumption or problems were reported for the three methods of assessment. Patients gave differential ratings about the method of assessment, with the computer rated as more interesting but also more mechanical, cold, and impersonal. Although the interview was initially preferred by most, patients who completed the assessment by computer showed a significant increase (13% to 43%) in their preference for the computer after the assessment. The results of our study indicate that patients' acceptance of computers in family practice may be favourably influenced by direct experience with a microcomputer.