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Breast cancer patients’ recall of receiving patient assistance services

Jenny J Lin1*, Kezhen Fei2, Rebeca Franco2 and Nina A Bickell12

Author Affiliations

1 Division of General Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1087, New York, NY, 10029, USA

2 Department of Health Evidence and Policy, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA

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SpringerPlus 2012, 1:24  doi:10.1186/2193-1801-1-24

Published: 3 October 2012



The objective of this study was to assess factors that affect breast cancer patients’ recall of patient assistance services.


We surveyed newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients and compared recall of receiving patient assistance services at 2 weeks and 6 months in a patient-assistance randomized controlled trial aimed to connect women to such programs. The intervention group received information about assistance programs targeted to their practical, psychosocial, and/or informational needs; the control group received a Department of Health pamphlet about breast cancer and its treatment, including a list of patient assistance services.


Of 333 women, 210 (63%) reported informational, 183 (55%) psychosocial and 177 (53%) practical needs. At 2 weeks, 96% (202/210) of women with informational needs reported receiving informational material but at 6 months, recall dropped to 69% (140/210). All women whose informational needs were met recalled receiving information, compared to 31% whose needs were unmet (p < 0.0001). Of 109 intervention patients with psychosocial or practical needs, 77% (79) contacted a program specified in their action plan at 2 weeks. However, at 6 months, only 39% (31/79) recalled contacting a program. Women without recall were less likely to report having their needs met (6% vs. 58%; p < 0.001).


Recall of patient assistance services is strongly related to having needs met. Use of patient surveys to evaluate utilization or impact of such programs should be used with caution due to poor patient recall.

Clinical Trials # NCT00233077


Recall; Survey research; Breast cancer; Patient assistance