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Lancet Oncol. 2002 Jul;3(7):431-7.

Consultation audio tapes: an underused cancer patient information aid and clinical research tool.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Medicine, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Patients with cancer are known to value consultation audio tapes as an information aid and frequently accept the offer to tape record their consultations with oncologists. Systematic reviews have shown that providing patients with an audio tape of their consultations improves how much information they remember. In surveys, many Australian doctors were unenthusiastic about providing consultation audio tapes to patients citing issues such as patient confidentiality and medico-legal concerns as reasons for their reluctance. In addition to clinical benefits, consultation audio tapes are a valuable research tool for documenting information provision and analysing the interactions between patients and oncologists. For example, audio tapes of clinical-trial consultations have raised concerns about the quality of informed consent given by patients. Consultation audio tapes have also been used to monitor strategies for improving patient understanding. In three randomised trials, provision of a question prompt sheet significantly increased the number of questions asked by patients about their prognosis, suggesting that this topic was not generally discussed adequately. Oncologists should consider installing audiotaping facilities and offer all patients a tape of their consultation. Furthermore, scientists who investigate doctor-patient interactions should consider using consultation audio tapes as a research tool.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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