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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Patient satisfaction with nurse-led telephone follow-up after curative treatment for breast cancer

Merel L Kimman12*, Monique MF Bloebaum1, Carmen D Dirksen3, Ruud MA Houben1, Philippe Lambin12 and Liesbeth J Boersma12

Author Affiliations

1 MAASTRO Clinic, Maastricht, the Netherlands

2 Department of Radiation Oncology (MAASTRO), GROW - School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, the Netherlands

3 Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Technology Assessment, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, the Netherlands

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:174  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-174

Published: 30 April 2010

Abstract

Background

Current frequent follow-up after treatment for breast cancer does not meet its intended aims, but does depend on expensive and scarce specialized knowledge for routine history taking and physical examinations. The study described in this paper compared patient satisfaction with a reduced follow-up strategy, i.e. nurse-led telephone follow-up, to satisfaction with traditional hospital follow-up.

Methods

Patient satisfaction was assessed among patients (n = 299) who were participants of a randomized controlled trial investigating the cost-effectiveness of several follow-up strategies in the first year after treatment for breast cancer. Data on patient satisfaction were collected at baseline, three, six and 12 months after treatment, using the Dutch version of Ware's Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire III (PSQ III). In addition to general satisfaction, the PSQ III reports on satisfaction scores for technical competence, interpersonal aspects, and access of care. Regression analysis was used to predict satisfaction scores from whether or not nurse-led telephone follow-up was received.

Results

Nurse-led telephone follow-up had no statistically significant influence on general patient satisfaction (p = 0.379), satisfaction with technical competence (p = 0.249), and satisfaction with interpersonal aspects (p = 0.662). Regarding access of care, patient satisfaction scores were significantly higher for patients receiving telephone follow-up (p = 0.015). However, a mean difference at 12 months of 3.1 points was judged to be not clinically relevant.

Conclusions

No meaningful differences were found in satisfaction scores between nurse-led telephone and hospital follow-up in the first year after breast cancer treatment. With high satisfaction scores and the potential to substantially reduce clinic visits, nurse-led telephone follow-up may be an acceptable alternative to traditional hospital follow-up.

Trial registration number

ISRCTN 74071417.