Disagreement between hospital medical records and a structured patient interview on the type and date of the first symptom in cancers of the digestive tract

N. Malats, J. Belloc, M. Gallen, M. Porta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Medical records have often been found to be less reliable than interviews to patients when data on the initial signs and symptoms of cancer, and the out-of-hospital diagnostic process are sought; in spite of this, a large body of research on 'diagnostic delay' in cancer is based on clinical records. As part of a study on delay in neoplasms of the digestive tract we analyzed the agreement on the type and date of the initial symptom between hospital records and a structured personal interview. Records were abstracted for a random sample (N = 60) of 183 patients interviewed. Concordance on the date of the first symptom was deemed to exist if the difference was ±30 days. The Kappa index (κ) and the overall proportion of agreement (with its corresponding 95% confidence interval) were used. Medical records and structured personal interviews were concordant on the type of the first neoplastic symptom in only 61% of cases (κ = 0.50): 67% in esophagus cancer (κ = 0.49), 60% in stomach cancer (κ = 0.52), and 61% in colorectal cancer (κ = 0.50). Records underestimated the occurrence of anorexia as first symptom and overestimated weight loss and dysphagia. Only 56% of cases were date-concordant, the agreement being lower in colorectal cancer (46%) than in esophageal (67%) and stomach cancer (75%). Records indicated the first symptom to have occurred at a later date than interviews in 33% of cases; overall, a study based on hospital records would have underestimated the symptom to diagnosis interval by 2.2 months per patient. Only 40% of cases were totally (symptom and date) concordant. Marked discrepancies may exist between the information contained in medical records and what patients report during a structured interview. The quality of medical records data on the duration and nature of cancer symptoms should be assessed before its use in etiologic and evaluative research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
JournalRevue d'Epidemiologie et de Sante Publique
Volume43
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1995

Keywords

  • data quality assessment
  • digestive cancers
  • hospital medical records
  • patient interviews

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Disagreement between hospital medical records and a structured patient interview on the type and date of the first symptom in cancers of the digestive tract'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this