Aim: When programming a medical test such as capsule endoscopy (CE), finding the closest point between the patient's experience and his/her expectation is essential to improve any further explorations. For this purpose we designed a form which tries to collect the information required.
Material and methods: From December 2003 to January 2005 we examined the small intestine of 98 patients with the help of CE. Later they were sent an anonymous questionnaire in July 2005, which included 10 questions upon the origin and previous knowledge of the patient about this technique, their tolerance to it, and the value they attached to it with regard to finding a new diagnosis and assigning different treatments, and also the incidence in the positive or negative evolution of their disease in particular and of medicine in general.
Results: Answer rate reached 58% and was slightly higher among women and people over 70 years; 80% of repliers had been informed about CE by a physician, while nearly all the rest had received previous information from the media; 37% had had symptoms for more than 12 months, while only 17% had suffered them for one month before the exploration. A bit over 30% did not know what the specific diagnostic field of the test was (most of them women and young people), although most of them were not surprised by the procedure. Over 75% showed "acceptable" or "excellent" tolerance, while 5.5% (most of them young people) found it hard to bear. The opinion about its utility in the diagnosis was 37%, and although 70% thought that CE had revealed nothing new about their pathology, over 60% declared feeling better after the test; 84% pointed out that it had achieved a breakthrough for their quality of life (most of them men and very old people), and only 13% thought it was worthless. However, nearly all the answers agreed in that CE was an "important" or "very important" diagnostic device.
Conclusions: After the test using CE, the diagnostic benefit detected by the patient is not the same as that shown by technical studies. Nevertheless, the test can be highly satisfactory for the patient in particular, and also in an overall view. CE is a well-tolerated test, applied in our setting to chronic diseases and that, contrary to what we supposed, is explained to patients mainly by a physician. Most of them are not familiar with its specific indications.