Recordings of consultations are beneficial in the transition from curative to palliative cancer care: a pilot-study in patients with oesophageal or head and neck cancer

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2012 Apr;16(2):109-14. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 19.


Purpose: There is reluctance in providing incurable cancer patients with recordings of their consultation. In this pilot-study, we explored the feasibility and utility of providing consultation recordings when patients are told a new diagnosis of non-curable cancer, and the impact of the recordings on quality of life and the openness to discuss cancer-related issues in the family.

Method: Seventeen patients with a new diagnosis of incurable oesophageal or head and neck cancer were randomized to receive a CD (n = 10) or no CD (n = 7) of their consultation in which the diagnosis was told and the decision to provide only palliative care was discussed. Data were collected before consultation and 1 week and 1 month afterwards. After 1 month, patients allocated to the control group were offered to receiving the CD of their consultation as well.

Results: No major technical or procedural problems were encountered. Three-quarters of the patients appreciated receiving the CD, which was listened to by 8/10 patients and by 10/10 others in the CD group. After 1 month, two-thirds of the patients in the control group also asked to receive the CD. We found a trend towards a poorer quality of life but an improved openness to discuss cancer-related issues, in the CD group.

Conclusion: The provision of a CD recording on the consultation in which the transition from a curative to a palliative care stage was communicated is feasible and was well-received by most cancer patients and their family. These findings require however verification in a study with a larger sample size.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / psychology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Family Relations
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Videodisc Recording*