It is held to be a universal truth that patients receiving copies of clinic letters is good practice.
However, some may argue that this may not be the case for neurology letters which tend to be long, full of medical jargon and mention differential diagnoses which may result in patient anxiety. To our knowledge there has been no systematic UK study to determine what patients do with neurology letters; do they for example look things up on the internet, consult their GP or other health care professionals, do patients actually understand the letter and ultimately does it help with their management. Is there a difference for example between new and follow-up letters and to what extent patient demographics may account for behaviour? Preliminary data from a first cohort of 100 patients would suggest that almost 95% of patients would endorse this practice, almost 80% of patients said they understood the letter and surprisingly fewer than 20% looked up drugs or medical terminology on the internet. There also appeared to be no statistically significant difference between patients who were seen in a more urban setting (Brighton) versus those seen in peripheral outreach clinics (Horsham); and no significant difference between how patients behaved to new versus follow-up clinic letters. The data is currently being analysed for any demographic trends to see if age or sex may determine behaviour. This study was carried out by a Year 4 Brighton and Sussex Medical Student.
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