The validity of male patients' self-reports regarding prostate cancer screening

Prev Med. 1999 Mar;28(3):297-303. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0430.


Background: Despite the high rate of prostate cancer screening, the accuracy of male patients' self-reports of screening has not been investigated. This study assessed the concordance between patients' self-reports of prostate screening and the medical record.

Methods: Focus groups were conducted to obtain male patients' perceptions of prostate cancer screening and salient terminology. A sample of males (n = 276), 40 years of age or older, completed a 15-item questionnaire. Patients' self-reports of PSA and DRE screening were then compared with medical records.

Results: Results showed that patients' self-reports of DRE and PSA were discordant with the medical record 32 and 29% of the time, respectively. Sensitivity of patients' self-reports for DRE and PSA was 82 and 74%, respectively. Specificity of patients' self-reports for DRE and PSA was 56 and 65%, respectively. One in five patients reported that they were not sure how a doctor checks a man's prostate gland. Only 39% of patients knew that the prostate gland can be checked by a blood test.

Conclusions: There were significant differences between patients' self-reports and the medical record. The results should be of concern to primary care practitioners and to those who evaluate the efficacy of prostate cancer screening programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Records
  • Men / education*
  • Men / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / blood
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*


  • Prostate-Specific Antigen