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J. Lee, O. Coki, J. T. Flynn, M. F. Chiang; Perceptions of Patient Families Toward Telemedical Retinopathy of Prematurity Diagnosis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2007;48(13):3104.
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Telemedicine has potential to improve the quality and accessibility of care for infants with retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). However, the attitudes of parents toward this emerging technology are not known. This study was designed to formally evaluate the acceptability and perceptions of parents toward telemedicine for ROP.
From 11/1/05 to 10/1/06, one parent of each infant at the Columbia University Medical Center neonatal intensive care unit who met existing ROP examination guidelines was offered participation in a telemedicine study. Parents who provided informed consent for wide-field retinal imaging using a commercially-available device (RetCam-II; Clarity, Pleasanton, CA) were given a questionnaire. This survey was based on a previously-validated instrument, and was intended to evaluate perceptions about telemedicine for ROP care using a 5-point Likert scale. Questions were divided into items reflecting positive attitudes toward telemedicine, reflecting negative attitudes toward telemedicine, reflecting preference of face-to-face care over telemedicine, and reflecting preference of telemedicine over face-to-face care. Responses were summarized using descriptive and correlational statistics.
A total of 42 parents answered the questionnaire, which represented 42.9 % of all families whose infants received ROP examination during the study period. Mean age (±SD) of respondents was 31.2 (±5.73) years, and 88.1% were female. Items reflecting positive attitudes toward telemedicine had mean (±SD) scores from 3.36 (±1.16) to 4.36 (±0.64) on 5-point scale, and items reflecting negative perceptions about telemedicine had mean (±SD) scores from 2.62 (±1.06) to 2.72 (±1.15). Parents with more educational and computer background had better perceptions about telemedicine (p<0.05, correlation coefficient >0.384), and parents who watched the photography procedure had significantly more favorable attitudes toward digital retinal imaging (p=0.04). Mean (±SD) score for the item reflecting preference of face-to-face care over telemedicine was 4.32 (±0.79), and mean (±SD) score for the item reflecting preference of telemedicine over face-to-face care was 2.71 (±0.86).
Telemedicine has potential to alter the patient-physician relationship. Although parents reported generally positive perceptions about telemedicine for ROP diagnosis, they expressed preference for face-to-face care.
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