Objective: To investigate older cancer patients’ informational and emotional cues, how nurses respond to these cues and the effect of cues and responses on patients’ information recall.
Methods: 105 cancer patients (aged ≥65 years) completed a recall questionnaire after an educational session preceding chemotherapy treatment. Recall was checked against the actual communication in videorecordings of the consultations. Patients’ emotional and informational cues and subsequent responses by the nurse were rated using an adaptation of the Medical Interview Aural Rating Scale (MIARS).
Results: Patients gave more informational than emotional cues. The most frequent response to emotional cues was distancing followed by acknowledgement. Nurses gave appropriate information in response to the majority of informational cues. Patients’ expression of emotional or informational cues did not influence recall; neither did nurses’ responses to informational cues. Responses to emotional cues did affect recall. The more nurses responded by giving ‘minimal’ encouragements (e.g. ‘Hmmm’), the more patients recalled, while distancing responses (e.g. switching focus) were associated with lower recall scores.
Conclusion: Responding to patients’ emotions is likely to impact information recall.
Practice implications: These results highlight the importance of addressing patients’ expressions of emotions in the context of patient education, as it enhances information recall.