Purpose: To study the attitudes and responses of cancer patients to audiotaped consultations as a communication aid in an ophthalmic clinic.
Methods: Ninety-four patients attending an ocular oncology clinic were given an audiotape of their initial consultation. They were then administered a structured interview with questionnaire regarding their views on the tape when they attended an outpatient clinic for follow-up after surgery or radiotherapy.
Results: 91% of patients had listened to the tape at least once, often prior to their treatment or follow-up visit. Most patients had shared the tape with immediate relatives, including their spouse (58%) or other family members (45%). Of those who had listened to the tape, 94% described it as very useful or quite useful in helping them understand their condition. The majority had found it valuable in helping them understand their treatment and its side-effects, in reducing their fears and anxieties and in their emotional and psychological adjustment to their illness. Most commented on the tape as a valuable communication aid to the consultation process.
Conclusions: Taping of the consultation as a method of improving communication is popular among cancer patients. The vast majority benefit greatly from being able to hear their consultation again in their own time.