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The effects of the use of technological devices on dimensions that affect the physician-patient relationship need to be well understood.Determine patients' perceptions of physicians' personal digital assistant (PDA) use, comparing the results across 8 physician-patient dimensions important to clinical interactions.Patients completed anonymous surveys about their perceptions of physician PDA use. Data were collected during 2006 and 2007 at 12 family medicine practices. Survey items included physician sex, patient demographics, if physicians explained why they were using the PDA, and Likert ratings on 8 dimensions of how a PDA can influence physician-patient interactions (surprise, confidence, feelings, comfort, communication, relationship, intelligence, and satisfaction). The survey response rate was 78%. Physicians explained to their patients what they were doing with the PDA 64% of the time. Logistic regression analyses determined that patients of male physicians, patients attending private practices and underserved sites, patients with Medicaid insurance, and patients who observed their physician using a PDA during both the index visit and at least one prior visit were more likely to receive an explanation of PDA use. Most importantly, physician-patient communication was rated significantly more positive if an explanation of PDA use was offered.Patients rate interactions with their physicians more positively when physicians explain their PDA use.