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'Acted reality' in electronic patient record research: a bridge between laboratory and ethnographic studies

posted on 2023-06-08, 12:14 authored by Lesley Axelrod, Geraldine Ann Fitzpatrick, Flis Henwood, Liz Thackray, Becky Simpson, Amanda Nicholson, Helen Smith, Greta Rait, Jackie Cassell
This paper describes and reflects on the development and use of ‘acted reality’ scenarios to study variability in General Practitioners’ (GPs’) record keeping practices, particularly their use of free text and coded entries. With actors playing the part of patients and in control of certain elements of the interaction, the acted reality approach creates a bridge between the controlled but often unrealistic laboratory setting and the arguably more ‘realistic’ but often messy world observed in traditional ethnographic studies. The skills and techniques of actors were compelling, helping to develop and sustain interaction, whilst keeping the process on track and providing rich data. This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of working with actors in this specific context and argues that the acted reality approach might be applied elsewhere in HCI research, especially in contexts where there are multiple individuals involved, but where the behaviour of one user is of special interest.


Publication status

  • Published

Page range


Presentation Type

  • paper

Event name

Interact 2011: 13th IFIP TC13 Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

Event location

Lisbon, Portugal

Event type


Event date

5-6th September

Department affiliated with

  • Primary Care and Public Health Publications

Full text available

  • No

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

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