How can a phone call reduce anxiety levels in cancer patients?

By Bruna Stamm, nurse, master of nursing, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil

Phone calls are commonly used worldwide as a resource to handle anxiety in cancer patients undergoing treatment (KIM, et al., 2013; WHATSON, et al., 2013), but no Brazilian studies describing actions oriented to this subject were identified by the time the present study was developed.

The paper “Telephone intervention for anxiety management in oncology patients: a randomized clinical trial, published at Acta Paulista de Enfermagem (vol. 31, no. 2), evaluated the efficacy of a telephone intervention applied by a nurse to reduce the anxiety levels of patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment and presented the use of telephone as a tool for comprehensive care and a possibility to advance nursing care.

A randomized clinical trial was carried out in a radiotherapy outpatient facility with a 15-day follow-up. The sample was 39 patients in radiotherapy treatment (20 in the intervention group and 19 in the control group). During the period of treatment, a trained nurse made two phone calls to groups of patients on the seventh and fifteenth days, with specific and objective information on the treatment, but with different contents depending on the group. In the control group the phone calls lasted three minutes approximately and were used to confirm the date of the next appointment in the outpatient facility and guide patients on water intake. In the intervention group the phone calls lasted around 15 minutes and were used to provide information on the treatment and a space for listening to patients’ questions.

The anxiety levels presented by patients in the beginning of the radiotherapy treatment (pre-intervention) and its end (post-intervention) showed a statistically significant difference in the comparison between intervention (p<0.027) and control groups.

In Brazil, 31% of the patients who begin cancer treatment have anxiety (BRYANT, et al., 2015). The psychosocial suffering of cancer patients, especially anxiety, can be minimized when healthcare professionals provide accurate, up-to-date, and personalized information on the disease and its causes, treatment options, and procedures and side effects of the therapy (AGARWAL, et al., 2016).

From this perspective, the use of the telephone in the present study reduced the anxiety levels of patients during the radiotherapy treatment and proved to be a resource that expands the limit of action of healthcare teams, notably nurses, regarding the fulfillment of needs which emerge in each moment of the treatment, as in anxiety relief.

The study was funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development.


AGARWAL, S., et al. Guidelines for reporting of health interventions using mobile phones: mobile health (mHealth) evidence reporting and assessment (mERA) checklist. BMJ [online]. 2016, vol. 17, no. 352, i1174, eISSN: 2044-6055 [viewed 26 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i1174. Available from:

BRYANT, J., et al. Protocol of a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of a web-based information intervention with nurse-delivered telephone support for haematological cancer patients and their support persons. BMC Cancer [online]. 2015, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 295, ISSN: 1471-2407 [viewed 26 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1186/s12885-015-1314-x. Available from:

KIM, H.S., et al. Randomized controlled trial of standardized education and telemonitoring for pain in outpatients with advanced solid tumors. Support Care Cancer [online]. 2013, vol. 21, no. 6, pp. 1751-1759, ISSN: 0941-4355 [viewed 26 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1007/s00520-013-1722-x. Available from:

WATSON, M., et al. Problem-focussed interactive telephone therapy for cancer patients: a phase II feasibility trial. Psychooncology [online]. 2012, vol. 22, no. 7, pp. 1485-1491, ISSN: 1057-9249 [viewed 26 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1002/pon.3194. Available from:

To read the article, access it

STAMM, B., et al. Telephone intervention for anxiety management in oncology patients: a randomized clinical trial. Acta paul. enferm. [online]. 2018, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 137-143, ISSN: 0103-2100 [viewed 26 July 2018]. DOI: 10.1590/1982-0194201800021. Available from:

External link

Acta Paulista de Enfermagem – APE: <>


Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

STAMM, B. How can a phone call reduce anxiety levels in cancer patients? [online]. SciELO in Perspective | Press Releases, 2018 [viewed ]. Available from:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation