Objective: To evaluate audiotape-recorded consultations at which a new diagnosis of oesophageal or gastric cancer was given to patients with reference to information retention, psychological outcome and socio-economic deprivation.
Methods: Fifty-eight patients were randomised to receive audiotaped consultations or not. Thirty-one patients received tapes (12 oesophageal and 19 gastric cancers) and were compared with 27 control patients (12 oesophageal and 15 gastric cancers). All patients were re-interviewed and completed a hospital anxiety and depression (HAD) questionnaire. Socio-economic deprivation scores were calculated using National Indices of Multiple Deprivation.
Results: Patients randomised to receive tapes were more likely to retain information (31 patients) than control patients (18 patients, p=0.001). Median (range) HAD scores were similar in both groups of patients [HAD A tape 6 (0-21) vs. no tape 5 (2-14), HAD D tape 3 (0-23) vs. 4 (0-10), respectively]. Deprivation correlated significantly with higher HAD A scores in control patients (p=0.039) but was not associated with information retention (p=0.667).
Conclusion: Taped consultations were associated with significantly better information retention without adverse psychological outcomes. Providing an audiotape may reduce the effect of socio-economic deprivation on patient anxiety.
Practice implications: Audiotaping, or its equivalent, would be a valuable tool in the multidisciplinary approach to cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract.