Patient compliance with telephone triage recommendations: a meta-analytic review

Patient Educ Couns. 2012 May;87(2):135-42. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.08.019. Epub 2011 Oct 15.


Objective: To systematically investigate the extent to which patients comply with triage advice from telenurses and to identify factors that potentially influence compliance.

Methods: Findings from 13 studies identified through interdisciplinary research databases (1990-2010) were meta-analyzed. Separate pooled analyses compared patients' compliance rates for emergency services and office care (13 outcomes), emergency services and self care (13 outcomes), and self care and office care (12 outcomes).

Results: Overall patient compliance was 62%, but varied by intensity of care recommended with low compliance rates for advice to see a general practitioner. Reasons for noncompliance include patients reporting to have heard a different disposition, patients' intentions and health beliefs.

Conclusion: Patient compliance to triage recommendations was influenced by the interactive role of patient perceptions and the quality of provider communication, both of which were mediated by access to health services. Further research is needed to clarify whether noncompliance is attributable to poor communication by the nurse or patient misinterpretation.

Practice implications: We highlight the need for communication-skills training in a telephone-consultation context that is patient centered, and specifically addresses building active listening and active advising skills and advantages to structuring the call.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nurses*
  • Patient Compliance* / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Telenursing
  • Telephone*
  • Triage*