BACKGROUND: The use of telephone in delivering cancer care increases, but not in cancer workup. Current protocols for breaking bad news assume a single in-person meeting. Cancer workup involves multiple opportunities for patient information. We investigated the psychosocial consequences in gradually informed patients of receiving lung cancer workup results by telephone versus in-person.
METHODS: A randomised, controlled, open-label, assessor-blinded, single-centre trial including patients referred for invasive workup for suspected malignancy (clinical trials no. NCT04315207). Patients were informed on probable cancer at referral, after imaging, and on the day of invasive workup (Baseline visit). Primary endpoint: change (Δ) from baseline to follow-up (4 weeks after receiving workup results) in scores of a validated, sensitive, condition-specific questionnaire (COS-LC) assessing consequences on anxiety, behaviour, dejection and sleep.
RESULTS: Of 492 eligible patients, we randomised 255 patients (mean age: 68 years; female: 38%; malignancy diagnosed: 68%) to the telephone (n = 129) or in-person (n = 126) group. Groups were comparable at baseline and follow-up, and no between-groups difference in ΔCOS-LC was observed in the intention-to-treat population, or in subgroups diagnosed with or without malignancy.
CONCLUSION: Breaking final result of cancer workup by telephone is not associated with adverse psychosocial consequences compared to in-person conversation in well-informed patients.