Aim: To investigate patients' views and understanding on receiving a copy of the outpatient clinic letter from the ocular oncologist to the referring ophthalmologist and GP.
Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 52 patients attending outpatient ocular oncology follow-up clinics, in a semistructured format using a qualitative open-ended questionnaire. The clinics are held at Liverpool Ocular Oncology Centre, a tertiary specialist referral centre at St. Paul's Eye Unit in Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Results: Patients' views on receiving a copy of the outpatient letter, their understanding of the letter, and improvements suggested. A total of 58% of patients had received a letter and 97% of them said they were glad they had it. Of this group 77% had shown it to family/friend. Consistent comments included: 'help with accepting the news;' 'good to be informed and to know what to expect;' 'confirmed what was said in the consultation.' Of the patients who had not received a copy of the letter, 64% replied that they would have liked a copy. A total of 80% of patients reported that they fully understood the letter. In all, 17% wanted medical terms to be explained, when asked to suggest improvements.
Conclusions: Sending patients copies of the consultant outpatient letter seemed to be highly appreciated and a useful method of information giving regarding diagnosis and management.