Patients accurately self-report medical histories for most maladies

February 17, 2017 by Laura Oleniacz

A study led by a University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher found that a group of prostate cancer patients reliably reported their own medical histories when their responses were compared to their medical records. The findings suggest that patient-generated reports, which researchers argue are less costly than medical record audits, are a reasonable approach for researchers who are conducting observational comparative effectiveness studies.

"For the vast majority of conditions we looked at, and their agreed," said the study's senior author Ronald Chen, MD, a UNC Lineberger member and an associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. "Patients really know their own medical conditions, and we can capture this in a reliable way without having to go through the painstaking process of collecting medical records and abstracting information from them. From a research perspective, simply asking patients about their conditions is a really cost efficient way of collecting this information."

For the study, researchers surveyed 881 patients in North Carolina who had participated in the N.C. Prostate Cancer Comparative Effectiveness & Survivorship Study. Researchers asked them to report whether they have a history of 20 different conditions such as heart attack, kidney disease, asthma or arthritis. Then they compared their answers to what was reported in their medical records. More than 90 percent of patients agreed with their medical records for 16 out of 20 conditions. The findings were published Thursday in JAMA Oncology.

For most conditions, the patients' educational status or race were not significantly linked with differences between the medical records and patients' own reports.

 "For patients who are on clinical study, whether they have a high school education, or if they have a college degree, we were able to find that patients really knew their medical conditions very well, and that information is similar to what's in the medical record," Chen said.

However, the research team did find that older age was linked with lower agreement between patients and their records for five conditions, including history of heart attack and other heart-related conditions. Chen said this is an area where more research is needed.

"In cancer research, we need to figure out how to capture and account for co-morbid conditions because cancer is often a disease of older men and women, and many patients have other ," Chen said. "We want to be able to capture this information accurately in research."

In particular, the work is important for research that aims to compare the outcomes and side effects linked to treatment treatments for prostate cancer. Patients' can heavily influence which type of treatment a prostate cancer patient would be recommended to receive, Chen said.

"When we're comparing one treatment versus another to see which one is more effective in the research setting, we need to balance the comparison groups in terms of patients' comorbid ," Chen said. "Being able to gather this information directly from patients could really help with this type of research."

Explore further: Low-risk prostate cancer best managed with active surveillance, according to new recommendations

More information: Fan Ye et al. Comparison of Patient Report and Medical Records of Comorbidities, JAMA Oncology (2017). DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.6744

Related Stories

Low-risk prostate cancer best managed with active surveillance, according to new recommendations

February 18, 2016
For most men with low-risk prostate cancer, the recommended strategy is active surveillance with regular testing to check for cancer growth rather than immediate treatment, according to guidelines from the American Society ...

New treatment regimen extends life for some men with recurrent prostate cancer, study finds

February 1, 2017
Adding hormonal therapy to radiation treatment can significantly improve the average long-term survival of men with prostate cancer who have had their prostate gland removed, according to a new Cedars-Sinai study published ...

Two radiotherapy treatments show similar morbidity, cancer control after prostatectomy

May 20, 2013
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy has become the most commonly used type of radiation in prostate cancer, but research from the University of North Carolina suggests that the therapy may not be more effective than older, ...

African-American men negatively impacted by hormone therapy for treatment of prostate cancer

August 4, 2016
In a retrospective study analyzing patients' medical records, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital found that patients' race significantly affected their longevity by increasing the likelihood of death after receiving ...

Elderly patients may be undertreated for prostate cancer

September 26, 2011
It's an ongoing debate: Should men over a certain age be treated for prostate cancer? Should these patients be submitted to treatments that may result in significant side effects if they may not live very much longer?

High-dose radiation therapy as effective as surgery for aggressive prostate cancer

August 8, 2016
A study by researchers at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center provides convincing evidence that radiation-based treatments and surgery are equally effective treatments for aggressive prostate cancer. It also suggests ...

Recommended for you

Zebrafish larvae could be used as 'avatars' to optimize personalized treatment of cancer

August 21, 2017
Portuguese scientists have for the first time shown that the larvae of a tiny fish could one day become the preferred model for predicting, in advance, the response of human malignant tumors to the various therapeutic drugs ...

Scientists discover vitamin C regulates stem cell function, curbs leukemia development

August 21, 2017
Not much is known about stem cell metabolism, but a new study from the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) has found that stem cells take up unusually high levels of vitamin C, which then ...

Searching for the 'signature' causes of BRCAness in breast cancer

August 21, 2017
Breast cancer cells with defects in the DNA damage repair-genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 have a mutational signature (a pattern of base swaps—e.g., Ts for Gs, Cs for As—throughout a genome) known in cancer genomics as "Signature ...

How a non-coding RNA encourages cancer growth and metastasis

August 21, 2017
A mechanism that pushes a certain gene to produce a non-coding form of RNA instead of its protein-coding alternative can promote the growth of cancer, report researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) ...

Spaser can detect, kill circulating tumor cells to prevent cancer metastases, study finds

August 21, 2017
A nanolaser known as the spaser can serve as a super-bright, water-soluble, biocompatible probe capable of finding metastasized cancer cells in the blood stream and then killing these cells, according to a new research study.

Comprehensive genomic analysis offers insights into causes of Wilms tumor development

August 21, 2017
A comprehensive genomic analysis of Wilms tumor - the most common kidney cancer in children - found genetic mutations involving a large number of genes that fall into two major categories. These categories involve cellular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.