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Laryngoscope. 2002 Jun;112(6):1060-4.

Telephone appointment visits for head and neck surgery follow-up care.

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Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Oakland, California 94611-5693, USA.



To test the hypothesis that patients with a variety of otolaryngologic diagnoses using telephone appointment visits would be equally as satisfied as patients receiving physician office visits, the study compared telephone appointment visits with physician office visits for health maintenance organization patients who needed routine follow-up care in a head and neck surgery clinic.


Randomized, nonblinded cross-sectional study.


After their initial visit to either of two head and neck surgery clinics, new otolaryngology patients were randomly assigned into treatment and control groups. Patients in the treatment group (n = 73) received follow-up care in the form of telephone appointment visits, and patients in the control group (n = 80) received physician office visits for follow-up care. Study data were collected using telephone interviews and physician tracking forms.


Patients receiving telephone appointment visits were significantly less satisfied with their visits than patients receiving physician office visits (chi2 = 25.4, P < .005). Patients who had physician office visits were significantly more likely than were patients in the treatment group to agree "somewhat" or "strongly" that 1) the physician addressed their questions and concerns (chi2 = 24.0, P < .005); 2) the physician provided personal care and attention (chi2 = 29.9, P <. 005); and 3) the physician provided high-quality care (chi2 = 34.5, P < .005).


Patients who received telephone appointment visits were statistically significantly less satisfied with all aspects of their follow-up appointment than were patients who had physician office visits. The study findings indicate that telephone appointment visits may not be an ideal type of follow-up visit for all patients. Despite these findings, one third of patients in the treatment group would consider receiving a telephone appointment visit for future routine follow-up care, and 21.9% had no preference, perhaps a factor indicating willingness to receive a telephone appointment for a follow-up visit.

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