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Doctors Best at Calming Patients' Fears

But educational videos better at providing disease info, study finds

WEDNESDAY, July 27, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Patient-education videos are excellent teaching tools but nothing beats the human touch: A new study finds doctors are still best at calming patients' health fears.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor surveyed 217 patients cared for at the university's melanoma clinic.

"The study confirmed the informational value of videotape-based educational materials. In fact, patients learned many more facts from the videotape -- which was created with information from physicians -- than they learned from their doctors during a clinic visit," study lead author Dr. Jeffrey S. Orringer said in a prepared statement.

However, the study also found that patients have much less anxiety and stress after they've talked with their doctor than after watching the video.

"We also expected that the educational videotape would reduce patients' anxiety and distress levels about their condition. It did, but their anxiety levels decreased by a much larger margin during clinic visits with their doctors. This tells us that the videotape is an excellent educational tool, but that it can't replace a positive patient-doctor relationship," Orringer said.

Consistency is one reason why videotapes are good educational tools, the researchers said. Patients can watch the tapes over and over again and receive the same information each time. However, doctors are much better able to tailor information to a patient's specific fears or concerns, they added.

The findings appear in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about communicating with your doctor.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, July 2005
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