Telephone and face-to-face consultation in breast cancer diagnosis: A comparative study
Mohammad Esmail Akbari
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Objective: This study compares telephone consultations with the results of clinical examinations to assess the value and accuracy of telephone consultations for the future planning in a breast cancer clinic in Tehran, Iran. Methods: In 2500 telephone calls, 800 Symptomatic patients were identified and asked to visit the center for the further investigations by the specialists. The agreement between two observers data were compared by the kappa statistic. Results: Totally 174 patients complied with the recommendation and included in the study. The most common chief complaints of visitors were: breast mass (42%) and breast pain (35%). Kappa statistic showed a very good agreement (K = 0.62, P < 0.001) between consultants' diagnosis and the specialists findings. This agreement for breast cancer diagnosis, although lower, was also good (K = 0.55, P < 0.001). Conclusion: The study findings indicate that consultants may diagnose and manage some common conditions via telephone, usually following the established protocols. More studies are needed to determine the economic and logistic advantages of telephone consultations. Practice implications: By assessment of strength and weakness of this service, it is possible to develop an easy to use information system for women who need breast care. © 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.