Patients reading their health records - what emotional factors are involved?

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;146:174-8.


In many countries, an increasing number of patients now make use of their legal right to access their health record. In this paper we shed light on the role of emotional factors involved when patients read their record. We report the preliminary results from an interview study in which eight patients who have asked for a copy of their electronic health record following a hospital stay have been interviewed. Our results show that distrust is an important emotional factor involved in asking for record access. When reading the record, several patients also discovered discrepancies between verbal communication and the written documentation, which causes irritation and resentment. Patients' reactions were due to health personnel's lack of openness in direct communication with them. We conclude that health personnel should be prepared to go more into the role as discussion partners with patients to show that their concerns are taken seriously, and that more should be done to avoid documentation errors due to weaknesses in documentation routines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*