Iconic medical symbols like stethoscope, surgical scrubs help doctors win patients' trust, states Australian research.
The six-month e-health project was undertaken by researchers at the Curtin University Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) and funded by Curtin's Office of Research and Development.
They investigated the process of providing e-consultations, and whether the presence of 'iconic' medical symbols like a stethoscope, surgical scrubs or a reflex hammer would help doctors build a relationship of trust online.
Medical e-consultations make use of electronic computing and communication technologies in the consultation processes, particularly when a client is unable to see a doctor face-to-face, the Journal of Medical Internet Research reports.
In the study, a series of images portraying different combinations of medical tools were shown to 168 people who ranked them by how trustworthy they looked, according to a Curtin statement.
The stethoscope was ranked the most positive by participants, receiving a rating of 95 percent. Words associated with the medical device included honest, trustworthy, honourable, moral, ethical and genuine.
Moyez Jiwa, professor and head of CHIRI Chronic Disease and research leader, said the findings were particularly important to the medical field given its growth in the e-health field.
"Our research also highlighted that although the stethoscope was singularly the most trusted medical tool," Jiwa said.