But the power of videotaped information also has its limits. The same study, by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System, also found that anxiety and stress are reduced much more among patients after they have visited with their doctors than after viewing the information on the educational video.
"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," says Jeffrey S. Orringer, M.D., lead author of the study, which appears in the new issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
"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," Orringer says. "This tells us that the videotape is an excellent educational tool, but that it can't replace a positive patient-doctor relationship."
Part of the reason the videotape was such a good educational tool, he says, is that the message was consistent. Patients could watch the tape over and over again, and the unchanging information was reinforced each time for the viewer. In contrast, an encounter with another human being is by its nature less consistent and redundant, Orringer points out.
At the same time, the consistency of the videotape helps to explain why it isn't as helpful at reducing a patient's distress and anxiety levels, he says. While the
Contact: Katie Gazella
University of Michigan Health System