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Research Article

Topic analysis: an objective measure of the consultation and its application to computer assisted consultations.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 15 June 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:1789
  1. M Pringle,
  2. S Robins,
  3. G Brown


    A simple method has been developed to classify the verbal interaction during medical consultations in terms of the relative proportions of medical and social content and the initiator of conversational topics discussed. The method has been applied to video tape recordings of three doctors' consultations with and without a computer present to classify and compare the items discussed. Actual computer use has been shown to have a medical effect on the consultations (p less than 0.05) and to increase the proportion of topics initiated by the doctor (p less than 0.001). Although this was largely accounted for by the massive increase in doctor initiated medical items resulting directly from computer use, there was evidence that, for two of the doctors, these topics were replacing some of the normal social and patient initiated medical exchanges.