Audio-taping the oncology treatment consultation: a literature review

Patient Educ Couns. 1999 Mar;36(3):229-38. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(98)00095-0.


An increased amount of research has been conducted to evaluate interventions for improving the quality of communication between cancer patients and health care providers. One of these interventions involves providing patients with audiotapes of their consultations with oncologists. Given that effective patient-physician communication has been linked to beneficial health outcomes, an examination of studies that have evaluated the effects of audiotape provision appears warranted. This article provides a critical review of this literature. The audiotape intervention has been examined in uncontrolled studies and randomized trials, and the primary outcome variables have included psychological well-being, information recall, and patient satisfaction. The empirical literature is unclear as to the efficacy of providing patients with taped recordings of cancer consultations. Overall, the findings suggest that the majority of patients benefit from receiving the audiotape, but the utility of this intervention in improving patient-physician communication requires further examination. Replication studies and well-controlled experimental designs applied to a variety of health care providers in diverse oncology settings are needed to confirm the validity of the empirical findings to date, and to facilitate further development of interventions aimed at enhancing patient-physician communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / standards*
  • Mental Health
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Referral and Consultation / standards*
  • Research Design
  • Tape Recording / methods*
  • Total Quality Management