The patient-computer interview: a neglected tool that can aid the clinician

Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Jan;78(1):67-78. doi: 10.4065/78.1.67.


In this article, I (1) review the process of interviewing patients by computer, (2) summarize computer-interviewing work done in 1968, (3) address the weaknesses of collecting information with the traditional history-taking methods or paper questionnaires, (4) discuss commercial software designed for computer interviewing, and (5) focus on the strengths and weaknesses of interviewing patients with a computer. The strengths of this process compared with traditional interviewing are that computer interviewing allows the physician to gather more data; gives the patient more time to complete an interview; uncovers more sensitive information; provides more adaptability to non-English-speaking patients, patients with hearing impairment, or patients who are illiterate; and provides structured information for research. The weaknesses of computer interviewing are that it generates false-positive responses, is not accepted by a minority of patients, is unable to detect nonverbal behavior, and requires changes in work flow. With the advent of an electronic medical record and the financial rewards for comprehensive history recording, the gathering of history and documentation from patients is increasingly important and favors adaptation to computer interviewing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computers*
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking / methods*
  • Medical History Taking / standards
  • Software
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*