Objective: To identify ethical processes and recruitment strategies, participation rates of studies using audio or video recording of primary health care consultations for research purposes, and the effect of recording on the behaviour, attitudes and feelings of participants.
Methods: A structured literature review using Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Psychinfo. This was followed by extensive hand search.
Results: Recording consultations were regarded as ethically acceptable with some additional safeguards recommended. A range of sampling and recruitment strategies were identified although specific detail was often lacking. Non-participation rates in audio-recording studies ranged from 3 to 83% for patients and 7 to 84% for GPs; in video-recording studies they ranged from 0 to 83% for patients and 0 to 93% for GPs. There was little evidence to suggest that recording significantly affects patient or practitioner behaviour.
Conclusions: Research involving audio or video recording of consultations is both feasible and acceptable. More detailed reporting of the methodical characteristics of recruitment in the published literature is needed.
Practice implications: Researchers should consider the impact of diverse sampling and recruitment strategies on participation levels. Participants should be informed that there is little evidence that recording consultations negatively affects their content or the decisions made. Researchers should increase reporting of ethical and recruitment processes in order to facilitate future reviews and meta-analyses.