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CONTACT is a content analysis of email consultations between general practitioners and patients. Early adopter GPs are experimenting with the use of email for consulting with patients. Existing research reports GPs and patients perspectives on using email consultation but there is a lack of research about the content of these communications in the UK. We are conducting the first UK-based content analysis of email consultations in two general practices in England.

We are applying a content analysis to explore and delineate content of consultations conducted via email including type of clinical content, number of emails in exchange and timing of emails. We are placing a particular focus on identifying safety issues associated with this method of consultation and on exploring the feasibility of the method with a view to applying it in larger scale studies of email consultation.

This will have utility for researchers who wish to find out more about the impact of email consultation in general practice, and for general practices that are considering the adoption of email consultation in general practice.

The study will complete by May 2016.

Led by Dr Helen Atherton
Research Fellow: Dr Joanna Fleming, Ms Abi Eccles
Co-investigators: Dr Becci Morris, University of Manchester. Dr Anne-Marie Boylan and Dr Clare Goyder, University of Oxford.

This research was funded by the Scientific Foundation Board of the Royal College of General Practitioners Grant number SFB 2015-15.