An exploratory randomized controlled trial comparing telephone and hospital follow-up after treatment for colorectal cancer

Colorectal Dis. 2012 Oct;14(10):1201-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2012.02936.x.


Aim: Following treatment for colorectal cancer it is common practice for patients to attend hospital clinics at regular intervals for routine monitoring, although debate persists on the benefits of this approach. Nurse-led telephone follow-up is effective in meeting information and psycho-social needs in other patient groups. We explored the potential benefits of nurse-led telephone follow-up for colorectal cancer patients.

Method: Sixty-five patients were randomized to either telephone or hospital follow-up in an exploratory randomized trial.

Results: The telephone intervention was deliverable in clinical practice and acceptable to patients and health professionals. Seventy-five per cent of eligible patients agreed to randomization. High levels of satisfaction were evident in both study groups. Appointments in the hospital group were shorter (median 14.0 min, range 2.3-58.0) than appointments in the telephone group (median 28.9 min, range 6.1-48.3). Patients in the telephone arm were more likely to raise concerns during consultations.

Conclusion: Historical approaches to follow-up unsupported by evidence of effectiveness and efficiency are not sustainable. Telephone follow-up by specialist nurses may be a feasible option. A main trial comparing hospital and telephone follow-up is justified, although consideration needs to be given to trial design and practical issues related to the availability of specialist nurses at study locations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ambulatory Care / methods*
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / complications
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / nursing
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Telephone