An online randomized controlled trial and survey of behavioural factors influencing patients’ willingness to attend a video consultation

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British Journal of Health Psychology


Objectives: To examine whether the phrasing of a hospital appointment invitation influences patient preference to attend in person or by video. The study also explores patient capabilities, opportunities, and motivations to attend video consultations. Design: A randomized controlled trial followed by a cross-sectional survey. Methods: Participants (1,481 total, 780 females) were residents of the United Kingdom who self-identified as being diagnosed with a chronic disease. Participants considered one of three hypothetical invitations. In one group, participants were invited to attend in person. Those in another group were invited to attend by video. These participants could either accept the invitation or request the other option. In the final ‘active choice’ group, participants were asked to choose to attend either in-person or by video appointment. Then, all participants responded to open- and closed-ended items about attending video consultations. Results: When the default option was in person, 25% of participants chose video consultation, compared with 41% in the active choice group (RR = 1.65, 95% CI: 1.37–1.99, p <.001) and 65% in the default video group (RR = 2.60, 95% CI: 2.20–2.96, p <.001). Closed-ended responses suggested that younger patients and those with previous experience were more likely to prefer video consultations. Most open-ended responses contained themes about opportunities, followed by motivations and then capabilities. Conclusions: Patients are more likely to express a preference to attend by video when video is the default option. The real-world effectiveness of this intervention is more likely to be realized where hospitals also support patient capabilities, opportunities, and motivations.

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