Letters to patients: improving communication in cancer care

Lancet. 1991 Oct 12;338(8772):923-5. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(91)91782-p.


Numerous studies have shown that patients are usually dissatisfied with the information they receive during clinical consultations with medical specialists. Therefore, a randomised study design has been used to assess the role of personal letters to patients outlining their cancer consultation. Compared with the control group, patients receiving letters were more satisfied with the amount of information given, and tended to have greater and more accurate recall of the consultation. A survey of referring doctors revealed general support for the idea of sending to cancer patients letters that outline the substance of their consultations. The study shows that letters to patients are a useful method of improving patient satisfaction and recall in clinical consultations. They also provide a permanent record of the consultation, which can be kept for future reference, and encourage greater patient involvement in their care.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Comprehension
  • Control Groups
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Medical Oncology / methods*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Random Allocation
  • Referral and Consultation*