Copying letters to patients with cystic fibrosis (CF): letter content and patient perceptions of benefit

J Cyst Fibros. 2008 Nov;7(6):511-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2008.05.007. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


Background: Copying letters involves generating an extra copy of all correspondence between healthcare professionals about the patient, to the patient.

Aims: To determine if the letter content was meaningful to the patient and to establish patient perceptions of copying letters from outpatient clinic visits.

Methods: To assess letter content, a copy of all outpatient clinic letters were collected during a one month period and each copy was assessed for the use of plain English using the Drivel Defence software. To establish patient perceptions, patients completed a questionnaire relating to the potential advantages and disadvantages of copying letters.

Results: Eighty letters were assessed for content. 77/80 (96.3%) of the letters had > or = 50% of sentences with <20 words. The mean (SD) sentence length was 15 (3) words. Abbreviations were minimal in most letters (71/80, 89%). Most letters explained the patient's clinical status in a meaningful way (76/80, 95%). Fifty patients completed a questionnaire. The large majority (46/50, 92%) "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that they felt more involved by receiving a copy. Most patients (48/50, 96%) would rather receive a copy with 40/50 (80%) reporting advantages.

Conclusion: Copying letters is well received amongst patients with CF, with numerous advantages and few disadvantages reported.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Copying Processes
  • Correspondence as Topic*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / psychology*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / therapy
  • Disclosure*
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Office Visits
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Program Evaluation