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The attitudes of 148 medical students, 141 residents, and 644 practising physicians towards computer applications in medicine were studied. The results indicate that physicians recognize the potential of computers to improve patient care, but are concerned about the possibility of increased governmental and hospital control, threats to privacy, and legal and ethical problems. In general, all three groups are uncertain as to the potential effects of computers on their traditional professional role and on the organization of practice. Practising physicians, however, express more concern about these potential effects of computers than do medical students and residents. While attitudes appear to be somewhat independent of prior computer experience, they significantly affect the extent to which physicians use a computer-based hospital information system. This may be a major reason for the slow introduction of clinical computer systems.