Purpose: By means of a randomized double-blind study, the effect of providing taped initial consultations on cancer patients' satisfaction, recall, and quality of life was investigated.
Patients and methods: Consecutive cancer patients referred to either the gynecology or medical oncology outpatient clinic were eligible. Initial consultations were audiotaped. Patients were either provided with the tape (experimental group) or not (control group). Baseline variables included sociodemographics, preferences for information, coping styles, and clinical characteristics. Follow-up (after 1 week and 3 months) variables included attitudes toward the intervention, satisfaction, recall, and quality of life. Assessments took place through mailed questionnaires and telephone interviews.
Results: Two hundred one patients were included (response, 71%), 105 in the experimental group and 96 in the control group. Most patients (75%) listened to the tape, the majority of which (73%) listened with others. Almost all patients, both in the experimental group (96%) and control group (98%) were positive about the intervention. Expectations were confirmed; patients provided with the tape were more satisfied (P <.05) and recalled more information (P <.01) than patients without the tape. The intervention did not have an effect on quality of life. An interaction effect was found between the intervention and patients' age on satisfaction with the taped consultation (P <.01) and recall of diagnostic information (P <.01); access to tapes seems more helpful in enhancing satisfaction in younger patients and recall of diagnostic information in older patients.
Conclusion: Cancer patients and their families value the taped initial consultation. This intervention enhances their satisfaction and improves their recall of information. Tapes seem more helpful in enhancing satisfaction in younger patients and recall of diagnostic information in older patients.