Perceptions about the Implementation and Education of Telemedicine among University Students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Objectives: This study evaluated and compared the perceptions, awareness, and experiences of telemedicine among university students in Riyadh.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a questionnaire was distributed electronically to undergraduate university students in Riyadh. The study was conducted from September 2021 to March 2022. Five-point Likert scale data were reported as percent agreement, while open-text comments were reported as recurring themes. Besides, the perceptions of medical students were compared with students from other disciplines.
Results: Of 564 participants, 209 (37%) were medical students. Most respondents agreed that telemedicine could save patients’ time (77.7%) and improve access to healthcare (73.4%). The agreement was low for the statements that doctors would effectively evaluate the clinical features (39.2%) and that patients would effectively communicate their illnesses (44.3%). The agreement of medical students compared to students from other disciplines was even lower for these statements (25% vs. 47%; p<0.001) and (37% vs. 48%; p=0.03), respectively. Most medical students reported that they never learned about telemedicine (65%) and its tools (69%). Lack of awareness, training of healthcare workers and perceived lower quality of healthcare emerged as the most relevant factors for the limited acceptance of telemedicine.
Conclusions: Most participants perceived that telemedicine could save patients’ time and improve access to healthcare. The low agreement, especially of medical students, for the ability of physicians to evaluate clinical features and of patients to communicate illnesses effectively possibly represented suboptimal education of telemedicine in medical curricula. Thus, incorporating telemedicine into medical curricula and improving public awareness might expedite telemedicine implementation.
How to cite this: Arain SA, Al Ajlan JS, Ahmed ME, Alshehry AA, Meo SA. Perceptions about the Implementation and Education of Telemedicine among University Students in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pak J Med Sci. 2023;39(6):1666-1672. doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.39.6.7797
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