A Scoping Review of Changes to Patient-Doctor Communication During COVID-19

Mahua Patra, Mohammad Hamiduzzaman, Helen McLaren, Noore Alam Siddiquee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Effective communication between patients and doctors is fundamental to high-quality healthcare, patient safety, and overall satisfaction. However, the onset of COVID-19 has prompted significant shifts in communication from in-room and face-to-face interactions to virtual consults. The impact of this pandemic-related change on patient-doctor communication goals, processes, attributes, and environment remains unclear. We undertook a scoping review involving the systematic search of seven academic databases for relevant articles published up to and including June 2021. In total, 47 articles were identified that met the inclusion criteria. We applied the patient-doctor communication framework to guide our deductive thematic analysis of articles included, sorting results from reported studies and position papers into themes and sub-themes. The theme of communication goals highlighted sub-themes related to patient safety, convenience, affordability, and satisfaction; preparation included sub-themes on technology interventions, workforce training, and digital literacy; participant attributes included compassion for doctors and rebuilding trust among patients; and communication process included issues related to telemedicine or video conferencing, challenges with diminished patient privacy, and distractions in the patient’s home setting. Finally, the environment theme included insights into doctors’ workload, isolation, and anxiety and how changes requiring increases in virtual consults iteratively altered confidence in care provision and communication with patients. Results of the scoping review provide important insights for strengthening virtual patient-doctor interactions, including target areas for training and professional development during and beyond the current pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-48
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date15 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Patient-Doctor Communication
  • COVID-19
  • Telehealth
  • Virtual consults
  • face-to-face interactions


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