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Do patients really want copies of their GP letters? A questionnaire survey of older adults and their carers

  • Jenny Dale (a1), George Tadros (a1), Susan Adams (a1) and Nikhila Deshpande (a1)
Abstract
Aims and Method

The National Health Service Plan stated that all correspondence between clinicians would be copied to patients by April 2004. We wanted to find out whether this practice reflected the true desires of their patients. A questionnaire survey was therefore performed in older adults and their carers attending a psychiatric out-patient clinic.

Results

A total of 88 participants were recruited; 50 patients and 38 carers. The majority of patients and carers wanted a letter about their care but most preferred a separate, simple letter rather than a copy of the letter sent to their general practitioner.

Clinical Implications

Although this study supports the existing evidence that patients would like written information about their care, it indicates that certain patient groups might not want this in the form of copies of their medical correspondence. Further research into patient and carer preference is needed before the implementation of this policy.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Department of Health (2000) The NHS Plan. London: Stationery Office.
Chantler, C. & Johnson, J. (2002) Patients should receive copies of letters and summaries. BMJ, 325, 388389.
Jelley, D., Van Zwanenberg, T. & Walker, C. (2002) Copying letters to patients: concerns of clinicians and patients need to be addressed first. BMJ, 325, 1359.
Meredith, B. (2002) Policy should be implemented as soon as possible. BMJ, 325, 1359.
Murray, G., Nandhra, H., Hymas, N. & Hunt, N. (2003) Psychiatrists omit information from letters when they know patients will be sent copies. BMJ, 326, 449.
Noble, L. M., Douglas, B. C. & Newman, S. P. (1999) What do patients want and what do we know? A review of patients' requests of psychiatric services. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 100, 321327.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Do patients really want copies of their GP letters? A questionnaire survey of older adults and their carers

  • Jenny Dale (a1), George Tadros (a1), Susan Adams (a1) and Nikhila Deshpande (a1)
Submit a response

eLetters

Empathy and training in letter writing needed

Parijaat Vaidya, SHO (Psychiatry)
08 July 2004

Dale et al raise the topical issue about writing separate letters to patients. It is important to recognise that, increasingly, such letters will assume a role in the therapeutic relationship between a psychiatristand his/her patient. Therefore, letters to patients shouldbe clear and empathic. Hopefully, this will lead to better engagement with services resulting in increased collaboration in treatment.

It is also important to recognise that training needs to be available to make writing letters to patients a safe practice devoid ofmutual suspicion. Such training will need to be incorporated within an SHO/SpR training programme at the earliest. Particular attention would need tobe paid to training needs for those whose first language is not English.

Dr. P VaidyaSHOChild and Adolescent Mental Health Services, 11, Union Road, Sheffield S11 9EFparijaatvaidya@doctors.org.uk
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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