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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effect of a printed reminder in the waiting room to turn off mobile phones during consultation: a before and after study

Ludovic Reveiz1* and Sylvia de Aguiar2

Author Affiliations

1 Edificio de Consultorios Clínica Reina Sofía, Department of General Practice, Av Calle 127 # 21 – 60 cons 221, Bogota, Colombia

2 Department of General Practice, Edificio de Consultorios Clínica Reina Sofía, Bogota, Colombia

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:21  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-21

Published: 23 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Telephone interruptions during consultations are one cause of work-related stress amongst general practitioners. Many health care centers recommend that patients turn off any mobile phones to avoid interruptions to the discussion with the physicians.

Methods

The purpose of this before and after study was to determine whether a printed reminder for turning off the mobile phone in the waiting room is helpful in decreasing the number of interruptions during consultation. A visual phone off sign utilizing the International "No" symbol of a diagonal line through a circle, along with a "please turn off your phone during consultation" reminder was used in the waiting room in the "after" period.

Results

A significant difference was found in the proportion of patients receiving or making a call during the consultation (8.8% vs. 13.5%, RR = 0.66; 95%CI 0.46–0.94; p = 0.021) and in the total number of calls (10.4% vs. 17.3%, RR = 0.60; 95%CI 0.44–0.83, p = 0.003) between the exposed and the non-exposed groups. However, no significant differences were found in the total time or the median time spent talking during consultation. The duration of the calls had median times of 20.5 seconds and 22.3 seconds in the exposed and the non-exposed groups respectively. Women from both groups who received a call during consultation answered significantly more when compared to men (70% vs. 52%; p = 0.05);

Conclusion

Our findings suggest that a printed reminder in the waiting room is helpful in decreasing the number of interruptions by mobile phone during consultation in our settings. The study provides the basis for further quantitative and qualitative research on this topic