Comparison of the accuracy of patients' recall of the content of telephone and face-to-face consultations: an exploratory study

Brian McKinstry*, Philip Watson, Robert A. Elton, Hilary Pinnock, Gillian Kidd, Barbara Meyer, Robert Logie, Aziz Sheikh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND To comply with an action plan patients need to recall information accurately. Little is known about how well patients recall consultations, particularly telephone consultations increasingly used to triage acute problems. PURPOSE OF STUDY This was an exploratory study to measure how accurately patients recall the content of face-to-face and telephone consultations and what factors may be associated with accurate recall. STUDY DESIGN In Scotland in 2008, the advice (diagnoses; management plan(s); and safety-netting arrangements) given in audio recorded face-to-face and telephone consultations was compared with the advice recalled by patients at interview approximately 13 days later. Patients also performed a memory test. Interactions were sought between accurate recall, consultation type, and factors postulated to influence recall. RESULTS Ten general practitioners (GPs) and 175 patients participated; 144 (82%) patients were interviewed. Patients recalled most important components of telephone and face-to-face consultations equally accurately or with only minor errors. Overall, patients presenting multiple problems (p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-399
JournalPostgraduate Medical Journal
Issue number1028
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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