Physicians' use of and attitudes toward electronic mail for patient communication

J Gen Intern Med. 2003 May;18(5):385-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20627.x.


To assess physicians' use of and attitudes toward electronic mail (e-mail) for patient communication, we conducted a mail-in survey of physicians who see patients in outpatient clinics affiliated with a large academic medical center (N = 283). Seventy-two percent of physicians reported using e-mail to communicate with patients, averaging 7.7 e-mails from patients per month. The lowest level of use was by community-based primary care physicians (odds ratio, 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.08 to 0.59). Those physicians who reported using e-mail with patients reported high satisfaction with its use. Although physicians were concerned about the confidentiality of e-mail, few discussed this issue with patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Computers
  • Communication*
  • Confidentiality
  • Electronic Mail / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Professional Practice
  • Records