Digital audio recordings improve the outcomes of patient consultations: A randomised cluster trial

Patient Educ Couns. 2017 Feb;100(2):242-249. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.08.029. Epub 2016 Aug 29.


Objectives: To investigate the effects on patients' outcome of the consultations when provided with: a Digital Audio Recording (DAR) of the consultation and a Question Prompt List (QPL).

Methods: This is a three-armed randomised controlled cluster trial. One group of patients received standard care, while the other two groups received either the QPL in combination with a recording of their consultation or only the recording. Patients from four outpatient clinics participated: Paediatric, Orthopaedic, Internal Medicine, and Urology. The effects were evaluated by patient-administered questionnaires.

Results: A total of 4349 patients participated in the study. DAR significantly increased the probability of fulfilling the participants' self-perceived information needs by 4.1% to 6.3%, particularly with regard to test results (OR=1.41, 95%CI: 1.14-1.74, p=0.001) and treatment options (OR=1.39, 95%CI: 1.13-1.71, p=0.002). Additionally, the interventions positively influenced the participants' satisfaction with the treatment, their relationship with the health professional, and their experience of being involved in the decision-making.

Conclusion: Providing outpatients with a QPL and DAR of their consultation positively influences the patients' perception of having adequate information after the consultation.

Practice implications: The implementation of a QPL and audio recording of consultations should be considered in routine practice.

Keywords: Consultation recordings; Digital audio recording; Health communication; Information level; Outpatients; Patient communication aids; Question prompt list.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Quality Improvement
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tape Recording*