Background: Patients whose test results are abnormal cannot make health behavior changes until the final phase of the laboratory testing process, patient notification, has been completed. Patients whose results are normal are often not notified at all. Few studies have examined the problematic aspects of patient notification, a crucial step in a complex and expensive process.
Objective: To determine patient preferences for receiving laboratory test results.
Study design: Patient survey by telephone.
Methods: Forty-nine patients with hypercholesterolemia who had had a lipoprotein profile performed within the previous 6 months were asked whether or not they had been informed of the test result, how they were informed, how satisfied they were with the process, and how they would prefer to be notified of results. All patients attended a clinic in suburban Detroit. Questions were read from a prepared script.
Results: The majority of patients (94%) preferred to receive notification of all test results: both abnormal results accompanied by recommendations for health management changes, and normal results. Preferences for type of notification included mail (59%), phone (16%), office visit (12%), other or multiple response (6%).
Conclusion: Notification of both normal and abnormal results is of great importance to patients. Further studies are needed to determine what form of notification is most effective and which method is most satisfactory to patients.