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Audiotaping the heart surgery consultation: qualitative study of patients’ experiences
  1. M Leahy1,
  2. J Douglass2,
  3. V Barley1,
  4. M Jarman1,
  5. G Cooper2
  1. 1Psychological Health Sheffield, Sheffield Care Trust, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Moira Leahy
    Psychological Health Sheffield, Sheffield Care Trust, Fulwood House, Old Fulwood Road, Sheffield, S10 3TH, UK;

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Opinion as to whether to offer patients an audiotape of their health care consultation is sharply divided. Following the Bristol Inquiry, the Kennedy report1 recommended that tape recording facilities should be provided by the National Health Service. The Department of Health2 rejected this on the basis that “it could undermine the relationship of trust between patient and health care professional”. The Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons thought the proposal was of “doubtful practicability”.3

We found no evidence base within cardiology or cardiac surgery to support the use or otherwise of audiotapes. Existing research examining the effects of audiotaping is almost exclusively within oncology, and suggests that the use of recordings is probably helpful to most people with cancer, but not all. The evidence for its effectiveness, however, is currently weak, uncertain, and limited to a small number of studies.4

We report the findings from the qualitative component of a pre-protocol pilot for a randomised controlled trial, to evaluate whether there are benefits to prospective heart surgery patients in providing a recording of their heart surgery consultation. In contrast to previous research, where findings on use of audiotaping have come only from intervention groups in trials, we included the perspectives of those without access to a recording. …

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