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Arch Intern Med. 1985 Dec;145(12):2184-7.

Improving patient follow-up in incidental screening through referral letters.


The effects of referral letters on increasing the likelihood of patients obtaining hypertension follow-up assessments are presented. Seventy-four patients with elevated diastolic blood pressure (between 95 and 120 mm Hg), who were administratively ineligible for longitudinal care from the Veterans Administration, were randomized into one of four groups: a patient letter; a physician letter; both patient and physician letters; or no letter (control group). No evidence of interaction between the patient and physician letters was found. Results revealed that nearly twice as many patients (63%) receiving the patient letter returned for a hypertension evaluation as compared with those who did not (33%). No difference was found between the physician letter and no physician letter conditions. These findings suggest that patient-directed referral letters can increase the likelihood of follow-up in both previously detected and newly detected cases.

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