Closing calls to a cancer helpline: Expressions of caller satisfaction

Patient Educ Couns. 2015 Aug;98(8):943-53. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2015.04.015. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


Objective: This study provides an alternative approach to assessing caller satisfaction focussing on how callers express their appreciation of the service provided during the call, as the calls draw to a close.

Methods: Conversation analysis is used to analyse 99 calls between callers and cancer specialist nurses on a leading cancer helpline in the UK.

Results: Caller satisfaction is expressed through upgraded forms of the appreciations through which callers begin to close the call. Dissatisfaction is conveyed in what are by comparison with expressions of satisfaction, downgraded forms which acknowledge but do not fully or enthusiastically appreciate the information/advice given. With latter calls, nurses begin to 're-open' aspects of information/advice giving, thereby leading to more protracted call closings.

Conclusion: Endogenous indicators of caller satisfaction are displayed through callers' upgraded appreciations in the closing moments of helpline calls. Difficulties in terminating calls (protracted by nurses re-opening information-giving etc.) arise when callers do not convey their satisfaction with the service provided.

Practice implications: An understanding of endogenous indicators of satisfaction may benefit helpline organisations and further their understanding of effective call-handling, particularly through identifying the features common to those calls in which callers do not display their satisfaction with the call.

Keywords: Call closings; Caller satisfaction; Cancer care; Conversation analysis; Helplines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hotlines*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Triage