In the 12 months prior to the survey, approximately 8.4 million Australians aged 15 years and over had a pathology test following referral by a health professional (49%), excluding tests had in a hospital.
In most cases (98%) the referring health professional had explained the reasons for the most recent pathology test. These reasons were well understood, with 93% of people understanding them completely and a further 6% understanding them to some extent. This high level of understanding was reported by both men and women, and across all age groups.
Nearly half the people surveyed had received the results of their most recent pathology test at a follow up appointment (46%). Others had either been contacted by someone (27%) or had contacted someone (21%) to obtain their results. It was rare for results to be given at the time of the test (1%). Follow up appointments were more common among those aged 55 years and over.
People living in major cities (49%) were more likely than people in inner regional areas (42%) or outer regional or remote areas (35%) to have had a follow up appointment. Women were more likely than men to have contacted someone to obtain their test results (23% compared with 17%).
At the time of the survey, 5% of respondents had not received the results of their most recent pathology test, in some instances because it was too soon to do so. Of the people who had received their results, 94% had received an explanation of the results, predominantly from the referring health professional (90%).
As with reasons for the test, pathology results were well understood, although slightly less so than the reasons were. Results were understood completely by 90% of people and understood to some extent by a further 10% (see Figure 5.1, below).
Satisfaction with arrangements for receiving results of the most recent pathology test was generally high, with 51% of people very satisfied and a further 39% satisfied. Only 6% of people said that they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.
More people in major cities were very satisfied with arrangements for receiving their results than people in inner regional and outer regional/remote Australia (52% compared with 49% and 44% respectively). People aged 45 years and over were more likely to have been very satisfied with arrangements for receiving their results than younger people.
See Table 5.2 for more detail of communication around pathology tests.