Help us understand how doctors’ communication impacts you

By watching two short videos and completing a survey you can help us to better understand and improve how doctors communicate about diagnosis.

Total tasks


Open until

28 February 2023

Information for participants

This project so far

In a previous phase of this project, we asked doctors how they communicated particular diagnoses to patients. We found wide variation in the ways a doctor might talk to a patient.

While doctors also shared their reasons for communicating in particular ways, we now seek patient perspectives. Hearing your views will help outline the impact that different types of verbal communication might have on patients, particularly regarding the diagnosis.

How you can help

Your contribution will help us to understand more about patient-doctor communication. This understanding will help build a patient-centred evidence base, which we hope will ultimately be used to improve communication training for doctors, thus improving patient experiences.


A note on accessibility

In order to replicate the real world scenario of a patient-doctor consultation as closely as possible, the videos used in this study are viewable only once and are not subtitled. Unlike most projects on Thiscovery, this may mean that this phase of the study is not accessible if you need subtitles to access video content.

Anyone over the age of 18 and living in the UK can take part, as long as you are not a medical doctor or medical student

We want to hear everyone’s views, whether you're currently receiving care or not

We want to hear about

If and how different communication styles impact your experiences and feelings as a patient

What preferences you have as a patient regarding doctors’ communication of diagnosis, and why

Step by step

Create your Thiscovery account and verify your email address
Give consent
Read the information for participants and agree to take part
Watch videos & complete survey
After each short video we will ask you to complete a survey

Information for participants

Key things to know

  • This study is examining the effects that different types of communication from doctors might have on patients.
  • We are particularly interested in communication surrounding the diagnosis – when a doctor talks to a patient about what might be causing their symptoms.
  • We are keen to get involvement from a range of people, of different ages and backgrounds. Anyone over the age of 18 can take part, unless you yourself are a doctor, or are training to become one.
  • Participation in this study is entirely voluntary.
  • Your confidentiality will be maintained at all times. Nothing you say will be attributed to you.
  • This is an online study, which involves watching two short videos and then answering some survey questions.
  • This webpage explains the project in more detail.

About this study

Doctor-patient communication is an important part of healthcare. There are many different ways in which a doctor might talk to a patient. This project aims to explore the impact that different types of verbal communication might have on patients, particularly regarding the diagnosis.

You can participate if you are over the age of 18 and are currently living in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man and Channel Islands). We are interested in everyone’s views, whether you are currently receiving care or not.

How might you be involved in the study?

We would like to invite you to participate in this study by taking part in a short online study (20-30 mins).

The study will involve you watching two short videos (each about three minutes long) showing a doctor  talking to you. We would like you to try to imagine that you are the ‘patient’ and this person on the video is a doctor you have seen. To try to make it as realistic as possible, we would like you to try to watch the videos in a quiet space, and not to pause the video unless you are interrupted. In order to mimic a real consultation as much as possible, there are no subtitles.

After you have watched each video, we will ask you to fill in a short online questionnaire to collect your views about the video. There will be no right or wrong answers – we just want to hear what you think.

If you would like to take part, you will need to register on Thiscovery; an online research platform which has been developed by The Health Improvement Studies (THIS) Institute at the University of Cambridge. Once registered and logged into Thiscovery, you will be asked to answer a few questions about yourself, read a consent statement and provide consent electronically. You will be emailed a copy of your completed consent form for your records.

The registration process and completion of the study should take no longer than 30 minutes. You will need an internet connection and a laptop/computer/phone/tablet.

All contributions will be anonymised and will not be attributed to you. No-one will be told whether or not you have taken part.

Participation is voluntary. If you decide to take part, and then change your mind, you can withdraw from the study at any time.

What are the benefits of this project?

Your contribution will help us to understand more about how different styles of communication might impact patients. We hope that this will help us to understand more about patient-doctor communication, particularly around a diagnosis. We hope that this research will help guide future studies in this area. Ultimately, we aim to improve communication training for doctors, and improve patient experiences of healthcare.

Are there any risks?

The risks of taking part in this study are very small. It is possible that some people might find discussion of medical information upsetting, although we hope that this will not be an issue for most people. If you wish to stop taking part you may do so at any point. You can also skip any question or questions that you do not wish to answer.

What do I do if I want to withdraw from the project?

If you change your mind about taking part in the study you can withdraw your consent at any time without giving a reason. To do this please email to say you want to withdraw from the study. If you want to withdraw from the project whilst completing the survey or watching the videos, please just close the survey (you do not have to give a reason).

Please note that you need to be registered with Thiscovery to take part in this project. If you decide at any point after registering with Thiscovery that you no longer want Thiscovery to keep your contact details, please see the privacy policy at for how to manage your Thiscovery account.

How will my information be kept confidential?

The sponsor for this project is the University of Cambridge, which is based in the United Kingdom. We (the researchers) will be using information from you in order to undertake this project and we will act as the data controller for this project. This means that we are responsible for looking after your information and using it properly. This will be stored securely by THIS Institute, University of Cambridge.

When you register on Thiscovery, the following registration information will be collected: your name, email address and location (country). This information will be stored securely on Thiscovery. Only the Thiscovery team has access to this registration information, unless you provide consent for your name and email address to be shared with the research team for the purposes of sharing study findings.

The research team will have access to all survey data. The Thiscovery team will also have access to all survey data; however, this information is stored separately to the Thiscovery registration data. Once collected, this survey data will be fully anonymised to remove any information that could identify people or places. The anonymised data will be stored on the secure University of Cambridge network and will be used only for the purposes of the project or related projects of THIS Institute and Thiscovery. Anonymised data may be accessed by the project team, the project sponsor (the University of Cambridge), the project funder, or by regulatory authorities for the purposes of monitoring and audit.

Identifiable information (consent form and demographic information collected in the survey, contact details (name, emails if explicit consent is obtained)) will be kept on the University of Cambridge Secure Data Hosting Service (SDHS) for two years after the study has finished (end of study is defined as when data collection has finished). Anonymised survey data will be retained for 10 years after the study has ended on the University of Cambridge secure server. For more information on the SDHS, please see here: Secure Data Hosting Service – Introduction and FAQ – Research and Information Governance (

Your rights to access, change or move your information are limited, as we need to manage your information in specific ways in order for the research to be reliable and accurate. If you withdraw from the project, we will keep the information about you that we have already obtained. To safeguard your rights, we will use the minimum personally identifiable information possible. You can find out more about how we use your information here:

If you agree to take part in this study, the information we gather may be shared anonymously with academic and commercial researchers external to the study in and outside the UK. This is so that our research can be used to support other likeminded researchers, and the anonymised transcripts derived from the time you have given can benefit other related research. Any partners will hold a data agreement with THIS Institute and will be bound by the same ethical requirements.

What will happen to the results of the project?

We hope that the results of this study will be reported in peer-reviewed journals and presented at conferences. No personally identifiable information will be included in any reports or other outputs of the project: any quotations used in reporting will be completely anonymised.

Who is organising and funding the project?

The project is being conducted independently by THIS Institute. It is funded by Zoë Fritz’s Wellcome Trust grant. The project is led by Dr Zoë Fritz and Dr Caitriona Cox, University of Cambridge.

Who has reviewed the project?

The project has been reviewed by the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee [reference: PRE.2022.065].

Get in touch

If you have any questions or queries, please contact

For any complaints or concerns

If you have a complaint about any aspect of the project, please contact the head of THIS Institute, Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, using the following email address:

If you wish to raise a complaint on how we have handled your information, you can contact the Data Protection Officer at

If you are not satisfied with their response or believe your data is being processed in a way that is not lawful, you can complain to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) at or telephone 0303 123 1113.

If you have any questions or concerns about the medical information discussed in the study

If you have any concerns or questions about information that was discussed in the study that might relate to your own health, we advise you to speak to your GP. We are unable to provide any advice about specific medical conditions or symptoms.


This project is led by researchers at the University of Cambridge

Dr Caitríona Cox, THIS Institute
Dr Caitríona Cox, THIS Institute
Zoë Fritz, THIS Institute
Zoë Fritz, THIS Institute
01223 348342
Thea Hatfield, THIS Institute
Thea Hatfield, THIS Institute