HealthDay News — Patients have different preferences for non in-person receipt of test results, with preferences varying by test, according to a study published in the November-December issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Jeannine R. LaRocque, PhD, from the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey involving 409 participants to examine preferences for modes of non in-person communication for medical test results.

The researchers found that ≥50% of participants reported that they were comfortable receiving results for a blood cholesterol test or colonoscopy in four of the seven non in-person communication methods (password-protected website, personal voicemail, personal e-mail, and letter preferred over home voicemail, fax, and mobile phone text). For non-HIV sexually transmitted infections (STIs), >50% reported that they were comfortable with only one non in-person communication method (password-protected websites), and no method was preferred for genetic tests. Regardless of test type, patients were least comfortable with receiving information by fax. For personal voicemail, personal e-mail, mobile phone text, and password-protected websites, statistical differences were seen among comfort levels of blood cholesterol and colonoscopy tests and both STIs and genetic testing; no differences were seen between STIs and genetic testing. Familiarity with test was not associated with comfort of receiving information.

“Participants demonstrated preferences in how they received test results by non in-person communication methods, preferring personal e-mail and password-protected websites, but did not prefer fax,” the authors write. “Importantly, participants also demonstrated that preference was dependent upon test type.”


  1. LaRocque JR, Davis CL, Tan TP, et al. Patient Preferences for Receiving Reports of Test Results. J Am Board Fam Pract. 2015; doi:10.3122/jabfm.2015.06.150030.