Using a ‘digital doctor’

Study title

Using a ‘digital doctor’ for diagnosis

What’s it about?

This study will find out whether it is possible to use a ‘digital doctor’ to diagnose why a person has experienced a loss of consciousness for a short time, which is called transient loss of consciousness (TLOC). The three common reasons for TLOC are epileptic seizures, faints and dissociative seizures. It is important to understand this because people with  these conditions require different tests and treatments.

The ‘digital doctor’ is a talking head presented on a computer screen that asks questions about what happened when you experienced transient loss of consciousness, just like a human doctor would. The ‘digital doctor’ will also ask anyone who saw you lose consciousness some questions. All answers will be recorded by the computer and analysed automatically. The research team intend to ‘train’ the ‘digital doctor’ to use the answers of people who have experienced TLOC to decide the most likely cause.

The ‘digital doctor’ will not be used to provide a diagnosis for you, and you will not be informed of any predictions that the ‘digital doctor’ makes based on your responses. The ‘digital doctor’ will not influence any investigations or treatments that you are currently having or might have in the future.

Am I eligible to take part?

You can take part if you:

  • Have a diagnosis of epilepsy
  • Are aged 16 and over
  • Are living in the UK
  • Have a computer or tablet that has a camera and microphone
  • Have access to the internet
  • Have experienced transient loss of consciousness in the past (for example, losing consciousness during a seizure)

What will I have to do?

The research team will share a link with you (and the person that saw you lose consciousness, if appropriate), so you can speak to the computer-presented ‘digital doctor’. This will take 20 minutes and you will be able to answer some of the questions asked by the ‘digital doctor’ by speaking to the computer.

>Your responses will be audio- and video-recorded through the camera and microphone built into your computer. Other questions will be written on the computer screen and you will be asked to click on the response you wish to give.

Please share this information with anyone who saw you lose consciousness if they are interested in taking part.

You will also be invited to provide feedback on your experience of using the ‘digital doctor’, though this is optional.  You will be asked at the start of the appointment if you prefer to complete a questionnaire, be interviewed over the phone, or both after using the ‘digital doctor’. If you would rather not provide feedback, you can still take part.>

How do I get involved?

  1. Please read the patient information sheet
  2. If anyone who has seen you lose consciousness would also like to take part, they should read the witness information sheet
  3. Fill out this quick contact form
  4. A member of the research team will get in touch with you.

Is there a deadline?

31 July 2022

Who is conducting the research?

The study is part of a research project being carried out by neurologists and researchers at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Sheffield. The research is funded by Epilepsy Research UK.

Who has reviewed this study?

The study has been reviewed by the East Midlands - Leicester South Research Ethics Committee (20/EM/0106).

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