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How acceptable is a referral and telephone-based outcall programme for men diagnosed with cancer? A feasibility study


Dr Trish Livingston, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia (e-mail:


The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a referral and outcall programme from a telephone-based information and support service, for men newly diagnosed with colorectal or prostate cancer. A block randomized controlled trial was performed involving 100 newly diagnosed colorectal and prostate cancer patients. Patients were referred to the Cancer Information Support Service (CISS) through clinicians at diagnosis. Clinicians were randomized into one of three conditions. Active referral 1: specialist referral with four CISS outcalls: (1) ≤1 week of diagnosis; (2) at 6 weeks; (3) 3 months; and (4) 6 months post diagnosis. Active referral 2: specialist referral with one CISS outcall ≤1 week of diagnosis. Passive referral: specialist recommended patient contacts CISS, but contact at the patient’s initiative. Patients completed research questionnaires at study entry (before CISS contact), then 4 and 7 months post diagnosis. Overall, 96% of participants reported a positive experience with the referral process; 87% reported they were not concerned about receiving the calls; and 84% indicated the timing of the calls was helpful. In conclusion, the referral and outcall programme was achievable and acceptable for men newly diagnosed with colorectal or prostate cancer.