A systematic review of interventions to improve recall of medical advice in healthcare consultations

Philip W. B. Watson*, Brian McKinstry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background In order for patients to adhere to healthcare advice, it is essential that they are able to recall this following a consultation. Although psychological research exists which highlights techniques and factors postulated to influence recall, only a limited body of work has been conducted to evaluate their effectiveness in a clinical context.

Aim To carry out a systematic review of intervention trials designed to enhance recall of medical information.

Methods We searched Medline (1950-April 2007); Embase (1980-April 2007); Cinahl (1982-April 2007); PsychINFO (1969-2007); and the Cochrane Library Collection. Secondary searches were made through reference to relevant journals and reference lists from relevant papers/review papers.

Results From 69 papers provisionally identified, 34 papers met the inclusion criteria. Nine recall interventions had been evaluated (audio recordings, written materials, adjunct questions, prompt sheets, visual aids, cognitive strategies, rehearsal, communication styles and personalized teaching). Despite the experimental and theoretical evidence which could have informed cognitive interventions to enhance recall of healthcare advice, most studies primarily focused on the use of written and/or audio-recorded medical instructions. Although the majority of studies supported these approaches insofar as they enhanced recall, the findings were equivocal.

Conclusion While written and tape-recorded instructions appear to improve recall in most situations, a dearth of interventions incorporating psychological theory was readily apparent. Further research is required in clinical settings to determine if cognitive interventions based on a more over-arching psychological model of recall are effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-243
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Volume102
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Keywords

  • NECK-SURGERY
  • TERM RETENTION
  • CANCER CONSULTATION
  • INFORMED-CONSENT
  • MEMORY
  • OLDER ADULTS
  • CONTROLLED-TRIAL
  • RANDOMIZED TRIAL
  • WRITTEN INFORMATION
  • PATIENT EDUCATION BOOKLET

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