Evaluation of a patient file folder to improve the dissemination of written information materials for cancer patients
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BACKGROUND: Many cancer centers make available to patients written information material to supplement verbal information provided by clinicians. Randomized trials have demonstrated that providing such information can increase patient knowledge and satisfaction. However, little data are available regarding effective means of dissemination of such materials. The purpose of this study was to determine whether providing patients with a personal file folder after their first clinic appointment would improve the dissemination of written information materials and increase patient satisfaction. METHODS: A before/after study was performed. Consecutive patients with newly diagnosed cancer attending the Hamilton Regional Cancer Centre were selected randomly and interviewed by telephone within 1-2 weeks of the first clinic appointment regarding the number of information pamphlets received, patient satisfaction, and general preference for written information materials. The preintervention evaluation (T1) occurred over a 4-month period followed by the introduction of the personal file folder into the clinical practice. Six weeks after its introduction, the postintervention (T2) evaluation took place over the ensuing 4 months. RESULTS: A total of 300 patients completed the evaluation (150 each in T1 and T2). Responding patients in the two time periods were comparable with respect to background demographic variables. The mean number of information pamphlets received by patients increased with the introduction of the personal file folder from 2.4+/-2.0 standard deviations (SD) in T1 to 3.6+/-2.5 SD in T2 (P=0.0001). The percentage of patients planned for treatment who received treatment-related information increased from 36% (42 of 116 patients) in T1 to 65% (68 of 105 patients) in T2 (P=0.002). Mean patient satisfaction increased from 3.3+/-1.1 SD to 3.8+/-1.0 SD over the 2 time periods (P=0.0001). The majority of patients (87%) believed it was important to receive written information materials. CONCLUSIONS: The patient file folder increased the dissemination of written information materials and currently is being incorporated into routine practice.
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