Background: Communication between physicians and advanced cancer patients is frequently difficult. Patients often report poor levels of satisfaction with communication. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact on patients' recall of and overall satisfaction with their consultation by the addition of an audiocassette recording of a consultation to written recommendations.
Methods: Sixty patients with advanced cancer were randomized to either receive a tape recording of their consultation or receive no tape in addition to written recommendations in this randomized, double-blind trial. Patients gave their global ratings of the clinic, were tested for their recall of information given, and responded to questions about the utilization and role of the cassette in influencing family communication.
Results: The addition of the audiocassette to written communications significantly increased patient satisfaction with the clinic (8.7 +/- 1.7 vs. 7.7 +/- 2.0 on a scale of 0-10; P = 0.04) and significantly improved recall of the information given during the consultation (88% +/- 8.7% vs. 80% +/- 15.5%; P = 0.02). Patients expressed a high level of satisfaction with the audiocassette. Patients listened to the tape a median of 2 (range 1-4) times, whereas family members and friends listened to the cassette a median of 2 (range 1-3) times.
Conclusions: The addition of an audiocassette recording of an outpatient consultation to written recommendations for patients with advanced cancer is capable of increasing both the overall patient recall of the visit and satisfaction with the outpatient clinical setting. Patients expressed a high level of satisfaction with the audiocassette.
Copyright 1999 American Cancer Society.