Objectives: This study investigates information recall in unaccompanied and accompanied older cancer patients and their companions.
Methods: One hundred cancer patients (aged ⩾65 years) and 71 companions completed a recall questionnaire after a nursing consultation preceding chemotherapy treatment. Recall was checked against the actual communication in video-recordings of the consultations. Patients also completed measures of anxiety and memory-related beliefs.
Results: Findings revealed that recall in patient and companion couples together was higher than their separate recall scores (both proportional and absolute), indicating that they supplement each other. Proportionally, unaccompanied patients recalled almost as much as couples, whereas their absolute recall scores were lower. Younger age and higher education were associated with higher recall in both patients and companions. Patients’ memory-related beliefs predicted the recall scores of their companions rather than their own recall score. When patients reported memory complaints, recall was lower in their companion. In contrast, when patients indicated that they did not understand all information, their companion recalled more.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that, although an interrelationship exists between recall in patients and their companions, accompanied patients are likely to benefit from the extra information that their companions remember.