Surgeon's and nurses' use of E-mail communication with head and neck cancer patients

Sarah H. Kagan, Sean P. Clarke, Mary Beth Happ

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background. "Telephone tag" for questions about postoperative symptoms and other concerns often engenders dissatisfaction. E-mail use may improve communication between patients and clinicians. This study aimed to describe surgeons' and nurses' use of E-mail with patients and their caregivers after head and neck cancer surgery. Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional national survey of head and neck nurses and surgeons. Results. Ninety-six percent of surgeon and 87% of nurse respondents used E-mail, but only 40% and 25%, respectively, used it with patients. More than 50% of both clinician groups that used E-mail with patients have done so for 2 to 5 years and began this practice at the request of patients. Surgeons not using E-mail with patients were twice as likely as nurses to cite privacy and liability issues, as well as time management and miscommunication concerns. Conclusions. Some clinicians use E-mail with patients, most often by patient request. Medicolegal and clinical ramifications require further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-113
Number of pages6
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • Communication
  • E-mail
  • Head and neck surgery
  • Nurse
  • Surgeon
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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