Objectives: Questionnaires are used to estimate disease burden. Agreement between questionnaire responses and a criterion standard is important for optimal disease prevalence estimates. We measured the agreement between self-reported disease and medical record diagnosis of disease.
Study design and setting: A total of 2,037 Olmsted County, Minnesota residents > or =45 years of age were randomly selected. Questionnaires asked if subjects had ever had heart failure, diabetes, hypertension, myocardial infarction (MI), or stroke. Medical records were abstracted.
Results: Self-report of disease showed >90% specificity for all these diseases, but sensitivity was low for heart failure (69%) and diabetes (66%). Agreement between self-report and medical record was substantial (kappa 0.71-0.80) for diabetes, hypertension, MI, and stroke but not for heart failure (kappa 0.46). Factors associated with high total agreement by multivariate analysis were age <65 years, female sex, education >12 years, and zero Charlson Index score (P < .05).
Conclusion: Questionnaire data are of greatest value in life-threatening, acute-onset diseases (e.g., MI and stroke) and chronic disorders requiring ongoing management (e.g.,diabetes and hypertension). They are more accurate in young women and better-educated subjects.