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dialysis, media richness, media use, social information processing, telemedicine, videoconferencing



  1. Turner, Jeanine Warisse
  2. Robinson, James D.
  3. Alaoui, Adil
  4. Winchester, James
  5. Neustadtl, Alan
  6. Levine, Betty A.
  7. Collmann, Jeff
  8. Mun, Seong K.


Media attitudes and media use have been the focus of considerable academic research. This article uses this research to explore patient and health care practitioner attitudes toward telemedicine interactions via videoconferencing technology.


The development of new services through virtual environments has created interesting questions for media researchers. Media perceptions, media use, and media choice have primarily been the subject of research within workplace environments where researchers studied the array of communication options explored as they fit specific communication tasks. However, the creation of new organizational forms has generated new opportunities for understanding media use. Services that previously took place during a face-to-face environment are now accomplished using new media technologies. Turner and Thomas1 have referred to these exchanges as taking place within virtual service organizations. Examples of such services include on-line banking, distance education or distance training, and telemedicine. During these exchanges, an individual elects to use the media that is employed by a specific organization to accomplish a service previously conducted face-to-face. This study examines users' perceptions of the media for a specific task as well as their actual media use. In so doing, the study also explores how tasks are transformed through the use of the new media.


Virtual service organizations provide an interesting context for media research. Organizations are now adopting new media to perform traditional tasks by introducing web environments or videoconferencing environments to create new connections to users. User perceptions of new virtual services will be influenced by user perceptions of the new media employed and expectations regarding the service provided. Actual use of the service may also be influenced by those perceptions.2 Trevino, Webster, and Stein3 suggested that future research of media choice and use should focus on communication recipients' attitudes and use of media. When organizations are providing a virtual service, a recipient-oriented perspective becomes even more important, as it determines consumer perceptions and behavior.


This study also contributes to our understanding of the distinction between media perceptions and media use. Some of the research that has explored media perceptions and use has done so through surveys and interviews with users within workplace environments.3,4 These studies explored media use from a hypothetical perspective rather than an objective study of use. Other studies have explored media perceptions and use within a specific context.5,6 Use in these studies was characterized by percentage of e-mail messages processed, without the ability to examine or assess specific messages. Using a multiwave approach, the present study explores media perceptions and contrasts those perceptions with actual use within a salient context, medical care. Use is explored in a more dynamic way than in many previous studies7 by examining communication topics introduced. This process allows us to more specifically examine and contrast perceptions and use.


The specific virtual service context examined within this study is the use of telemedicine, specifically videoconferencing technology for diagnostic care. This article reviews media perception literature, briefly describes telemedicine, and sets up the study of health care practitioner and patient perceptions. It documents patient and health care practitioner perceptions, as well as actual behaviors, in an effort to understand the use of a new medium in this new context.