Written instructions to patients to confirm pathology results: is this effective in the transmission of results?

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Background: Bowel cancer is the second most common internal malignancy in Australia. Bowel cancer is suited to community screening methods such as faecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy. Typical reporting of histopathology results after colonoscopy takes 3–5 days. Patients were given written instructions to call the clinician within 3–5 days to discuss the histopathology results. The objective of the study was to perform an audit whether patients call the clinician to discuss their histopathology results after undergoing a colonoscopy, gastroscopy or both. Methods: A retrospective study was performed of patients attending for gastroscopy or colonoscopy at a single colorectal clinic at Cabrini Hospital, Melbourne, between 1 January and 31 December 2014. Age, pre-scope category and compliance with written instructions to callback were analysed. Results: A total of 176 patients met the selection criteria, of whom 32.9% did not callback to discuss their histopathology results. Age and pre-scope category were independent predictors for patients to callback after endoscopy. The mean age of the patients who called back was higher (P < 0.01). Compared with patients who had a previous polyp or resection, patients in the pre-scope category of faecal occult blood testing/screening were more likely to callback (odds ratio: 4.37; 95% confidence interval: 1.17–16.31). Conclusion: Patients undergoing a colonoscopy for the purposes of screening and older patients were more likely to callback. Patients aged 62 years and younger were less likely to callback and should be targeted. Enhancements to the way information is presented to patients (e.g. video) should be considered for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E382-E385
Number of pages4
JournalANZ Journal of Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • bowel cancer
  • clinician–patient interaction
  • colonoscopy
  • communication
  • histopathology results

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