Recording GP appointments could help improve patient care and provide a useful database for research and training, a study published in the British Journal of General Practice has suggested.
Marcus Jepson, professor of primary care at the University of Bristol set out to create an archive of videotaped consultations and linked data based on a large sample of routine face-to-face doctor-patient consultations with consent for use in future research and training.
The researchers acknowledged that obtaining high-quality video recordings of GP-patient consultations, linked to information about the patients and their practices, is challenging for various practical, ethical and logistical reasons.
GPs were asked to videotape (or audiotape according to participant preference) all consultations with consenting adults and all recordings were transcribed verbatim by a professional transcription service, anonymised for names and place names.
The recordings were then coded for problems and issues discussed using a published coding tool.
Of the 421 eligible patients approached for the study, 334 (79%) consented to participate, and 327 consultations with 23 GPs at 12 practices were successfully taped – 307 on video and 20 were audio-only.
The majority of the patients (300) consented to use by other researchers, subject to specific ethical approval.
Participating patients and doctors completed questionnaires before and after each consultation and three months after the recorded consultation.
The researchers created an archive of the recordings from the consultations and linked them to practice and GP data, as well as pre- and post-visit data from patients and their medical records, with permissions in place for reuse by other bona fide researchers.
The electronic database, stored digitally in the University of Bristol Research Data Repository, allows the data to be searched according to numerous variables at practice, GP, patient, or visit-level, with all data points linked to the index recordings, said the authors.
The study concluded that the archive will be able to support a wide range of future research, including studies of healthcare communication.