Attitudes, Barriers, and Concerns Regarding Telemedicine Among Swedish Primary Care Physicians: A Qualitative Study

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PURPOSE: The primary care physician's traditional patient contacts are challenged by the rapidly accelerating digital transformation. In a quantitative survey analysis based on the theory of planned behavior, we found high behavioral intention to use telemedicine among Swedish primary care physicians, but low reported use. The aim of this study was to further examine the physicians' experiences regarding telemedicine, with a focus on possible explanations for the gap between intention and use, through analysis of the free-text comments supplied in the survey.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The material was collected through a web-based survey which was sent out to physicians at 160 primary health care centers in southern Sweden from May to August 2019. The survey covered four areas: general experiences of telemedicine, digital contacts, chronic disease monitoring with digital tools, and artificial intelligence. A total of 100 physicians submitted one or more free-text comments. These were analyzed using qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach.

RESULTS: The primary care physicians expressed attitudes towards telemedicine that focused on clinical usefulness. Barriers to use were the loss of personal contact with patients and a deficient technological infrastructure. The major concerns were that these factors would result in patient harm and an increased workload. The connection between intention and use postulated by the theory of planned behavior was not applicable in this context, as external factors in the form of availability and clinical usefulness of the specific technology were major impediments to use despite a generally positive attitude.

CONCLUSION: All telemedicine tools must be evaluated regarding clinical usefulness, patient safety, and effects on staff workload, and end users should be included in this process. Utmost consideration is needed regarding how to retain the benefits of personal contact between patient and provider when digital solutions are introduced.

Sidor (från-till)9237-9246
TidskriftInternational Journal of General Medicine
StatusPublished - 2021

Bibliografisk information

© 2021 Glock et al.

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisation, hälsopolitik och hälsoekonomi


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