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Feasibility study of student telehealth interviews

Irvine, Alison W.; Lefroy, Janet E.

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Alison W. Irvine


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to medical students being taught remote clinical communication modalities (telephone and video). Junior students have not generally been included in this and have had less patient contact than previously. This study aimed to examine the feasibility from the junior student viewpoint of conducting both modalities of patient telehealth interviews.

An electronic questionnaire was used to discover Year 1 student reasons for their preferred modality after they had conducted one telephone and one video interview in pairs with a patient volunteer. Student views on the challenge and benefits of each were also sought.

A total of 55 (32.7% of the cohort) responded, of whom 82% preferred video consultation, 75.6% of those stating being able to see their patient/partner was a key factor. About 5% preferred telephone interview, and 13% had no preference. Telephone interviews were perceived as the more challenging (40% versus 12.7%); however, challenge did not directly link with lack of comfort. There were some technical/connectivity issues with both modalities, and the telephone call system was more complex to set up. Turn-taking was more difficult by telephone without visual cues.

This is the first direct comparison study in junior medical students of real patient interviews by video or telephone. Students embraced the challenge and, although preferring video and finding telephone more challenging, valued each as an educational experience.

Telehealth interviews with patients for junior students are feasible, give needed patient exposure, practical insights into remote modalities and consolidate communication skills learnt in the classroom.


Zaccariah, Z. R., Irvine, A. W., & Lefroy, J. E. (2022). Feasibility study of student telehealth interviews. Clinical Teacher, 19(4), 308-315.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 9, 2022
Publication Date Apr 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 30, 2023
Journal The Clinical Teacher
Print ISSN 1743-4971
Publisher Wiley
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 308-315
Keywords Review and Exam Preparation, General Medicine
Publisher URL


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