Providing Audiotapes of Primary Adjuvant Treatment Consultations to Women with Breast Cancer: a Multi-Site Randomized Controlled Trial

Heather Jones, MD

University of Pennsylvania Cancer
Last Modified: May 12, 2001

Presenter: T. Hack
Affiliation: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver; BC, Canada; Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, AB, Canada; Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, AB, Canada


    Patient education is an important part of a patient therapeutic plan. Empirical evidence supports the use of audiotapes at the time of consultation to aid patients in understanding their proposed treatment and associated potential side effects. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of audiotape provision on information recall, quality of life and patient satisfaction.

Materials and Methods:

  • Double-blind, randomized controlled trial of 473 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer
  • Patients were assigned to i) receive an audiotape of their primary adjuvant treatment consultation, ii) not receive an audiotape, iii) be given choice over whether to receive an audiotape or not, or iv) receive standard care.
  • The target accrual of 600 women is expected to be reached by summer of 2001. For this presentation the two groups that received the audiotapes where collapsed together for analysis. In the final analysis the groups will be looked at separately


  • The mean age of the study population was 56.2 years.
  • Over 50% of the study population had higher than high school education.
  • Patients who received the audiotape listened to the tape 2.2 times. There was no difference in the number of times a patient listened to the tape if they were given the tape by choice or without choice.
  • Patients who received the audiotape exhibited significantly greater information recall (p <.05) than those who did not have the audiotape.
  • The group that received the tapes had better understanding of side effects related to treatment and understanding of their treatment then the group that did not receive the audiotape (p <.05).
  • Audiotape users also had improved FACT quality of life scores (p <.05). Patients who recalled the most information reported the highest degree of satisfaction with their physicians (p = .056)

Authors' Conclusions

    The results suggest that audiotapes of primary adjuvant oncological consultations are a practical, effective, and inexpensive means of enhancing patient-oncologist communication, facilitating recall of information, and fostering patient satisfaction. Results for the entire sample of 600 women will be forthcoming.

Clinical/Scientific Implications:

  1. It will be interesting to see the final study outcome with all 3 groups to see if the patients who receive this information by choice differ from the patients who receive this information without choice.
  2. It is important to note that this is a Canadian study were the practice environment may be more conducive to taping of medical encounters. It remains a question if physicians that practice in a more litigious environment be willing to have an initial medical encounter taped on a regular basis.

OncoLink ASCO 2001 coverage is provided by an unrestricted educational grant from Amgen